Sandoz breaks ground at $400M biosimilar site in Slovenia, where it'll hire 330

After committing at least $400 million to build a new biosimilar manufacturing plant in Slovenia earlier this year, Sandoz has officially broken ground on the site.

The production center will occupy three buildings at the company's current location in Lendava and will make active ingredients for Sandoz’s rheumatology, oncology and immunology biosimiliars, Sandoz’ Slovenian subsidiary Lek said in a Tuesday release. As part of the expansion project, Sandoz plans to create around 330 new jobs.

Sandoz expects the plant to be Europe’s “most efficient” production site of active pharmaceutical ingredients for biologics and biosimiliars, the company said in the release.

By 2026, the plant should be fully operational, the company added.

On top of creating the new jobs, the site will help get biosimilars to “hundreds of thousands” of patients in Europe who currently can’t access the treatments, according to Lek.

The new digs and the “option for further investment and expansion of production” represents a “real signal of Sandoz’s intent,” Sandoz’ CEO Richard Saynor noted in the release.

Novartis scooped up Lek in 2002 for 876 million euros ($945 million) and transferred ownership to Sandoz in August as part of the Sandoz spinout.  

Sandoz announced the Lendava production plans back in March. The project stands to be one of the largest international private-sector investments in Slovenia, the company said at the time.

Since then, Sandoz has strengthened its commitment to the country with a $90 million biosimilar technical development center in Slovenia’s Ljubljana.

That site will be “key” to the company's biosimilar development, boasting end-to-end drug substance and drug product development capabilities, Sandoz has said.

The moves support the company’s Act4Biosimiliars action plan. Under the plan, Sandoz is looking to triple global uptake of the biosimilars over the next 10 years.

Biosimilars are copycat biologic drugs that are highly similar to approved medicines for a range of conditions, including various cancers and immunological disorders. Sandoz has identified biosimilars as a pillar of its long-term strategy after its recent split from Novartis.