Sanofi expands U.S. biologics plant even as it strikes deals to stuff its pipeline

Sanofi is expanding its manufacturing site in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Sanofi, which has been converting its biologics plant in Framingham, Massachusetts, to digital manufacturing, will again expand the facility.

A spokeswoman confirmed a report by the Worcester Telegram that the company would build a 14,820-square-foot addition to a new building it has on the campus. The company declined to give any details other than that the expansion “is to expand Sanofi’s manufacturing production capacity in support of our portfolio and pipeline therapies.”

That pipeline may soon be filled further with new treatments for blood disorders after it pulled off two M&A deals worth about $16 billion within a week of each other. Last week, it agreed to pay $11.6 billion for Bioverativ, the hemophilia-focused drugmaker spun off by Biogen just last year. It is based in nearby Waltham, Massachusetts.

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RELATED: Sanofi snaps up Biogen's spun-out Bioverativ in $11.6B deal

Then this week, the French drugmaker agreed to pay $4.8 billion to buy Ablynx NV, to get control of caplacizumab, a candidate for a rare bleeding disorder that some analysts think could become a blockbuster seller.  

Sanofi snatched Ablynx away from insulin competitor Novo Nordisk, which had made a lowball bid earlier this month for the Ghent, Belgium-based biotech, hoping to expand its own reach in blood diseases.

RELATED: Sanofi pushes hard into robotics and analytics to get most out of manufacturing

While Sanofi declined to give any specifics about the expansion, the biologics plant in Framingham, as well as one in Geel, Belgium, is among facilities on which the French drugmaker has spent billions of dollars to convert to digital manufacturing. The plants use collaborative robots, or “cobots,” that work next to humans for some processes and autonomous mobile robots for moving ingredients and equipment.

While robotics has been migrating into pharma plants for some years, the French drugmaker has made the transition to so-called digital plants a manufacturing priority, financing the transition with some of the €4.7 billion ($5.51 billion) it has invested to build out its production capacities in the last five years.