Lonza building biologics facility in China as country eases regulations

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Lonza will build its first facility in China. (iStockPhoto)

China has eased its drug regulations in hopes of drawing some of the new meds for which its citizens are clamoring. Swiss CDMO Lonza is joining a rush of companies looking to cash in on the situation by establishing its first outpost in the country, a biologics facility.

Lonza is buying one of GE Healthcare’s off-the-shelf biologics factories, which will allow Lonza to have it up and running by 2020, the company said today. It expects to hire 160 workers for the operation in the Guangzhou Development District where GE is working with authorities to establish a biotech hub.

“This partnership is the ideal way for Lonza to bring our expertise and technology to China,” Marc Funk, COO of Lonza Pharma & Biotech said in a statement.

RELATED: China’s WuXi to build yet another biologics plant, this one with continuous manufacturing

Lonza's 17,000-square-meter site will include 6,500-square-meters of lab space and one GE KUBio facility using single use technology. It will include a 1,000-liter bioreactor and a 2,000 liter bioreactor, which Lonza will integrate with its own platforms for clinical and early-commercial supply. A Lonza spokesperson declined to say how much the company is investing in the project.

Lonza's move comes as a number of companies are building biologics facilities in the country. GE built its first prefab biologics plant in China in 2015 when it quickly erected a facility for JHL Biotech, a company founded by U.S. biotech veterans working on biosimilars.

Several years ago, Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim bet on China for expanding its biologics contract manufacturing business and built a €70 million facility in Shanghai to capitalize on that bet. Chinese CDMO WuXi Biologics has been quickly trying to establish itself as a leader in the region. In May it announced plans for a $60 million biologics manufacturing plant in Singapore and weeks earlier touted plans for a $240 million R&D and  production center in Shijiazhuang where it expects to employ 1,000 workers.