Lonza unveils plan for $218M small-molecule manufacturing facility in Switzerland

Switzerland’s Lonza has been hard at work ramping up its manufacturing capabilities for a handful of COVID-19 products, including a decadelong deal to produce Moderna’s mRNA vaccine. Now, the CDMO giant is adding oncology to its to-do list and will build a brand new small molecule facility with the help of an undisclosed “biopharmaceutical partner.” 

Lonza on Friday said it will invest CHF 200 million ($218.6 million) to construct a small molecule manufacturing complex at its site in Visp, Switzerland, that will host six levels of manufacturing space. 

The new facility is supported “by a long-term collaboration and capital contribution with a major biopharmaceutical partner” and will “ensure continuity of supply and flexibility” for their product moving forward, Lonza said. However, a spokesperson for the company declined to comment on Fierce Pharma's inquiry regarding the identity of the partner and the amount of their contribution. 

The facilities’ initial buildout will cover the payload manufacturing for antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), including all required containment measures for the highly potent materials, the spokesperson said.

ADCs are a class of highly potent active pharmaceutical ingredients designed for the targeted treatment of cancer. Lonza says it currently produces the majority of commercially available ADC drug products. 

Beyond that, the facility’s design has yet to be determined. The company has included "several design options for the remaining phases, and the start of those will be defined by opportunities from the market,” a spokesperson said. Plus, the site will “offer several opportunities for future expansion” within the company's small molecules technologies offerings.

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The Swiss drug manufacturer said it expects to begin operations for its initial buildout in the second half of 2023. 

Lonza established itself early in the fight against COVID-19 when it inked a 10-year production pact for Moderna’s mRNA-based vaccine. Right now, the partners are working to produce up to 1 billion doses of the vaccine each year, though Moderna recently flagged issues with “human and material resources" that have hampered output.

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Lonza is on deck to produce Humanigen’s COVID-19 antibody lenzilumab, as well as AstraZeneca’s experimental antibody AZD7442.