Boehringer China biologics plant to do contract work

Lots of international drugmakers are opening plants in China to manufacture their products for a growing middle class looking for Western medicines. But Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim is taking a different tact. It will build a biologics plant there and offer contract manufacturing to the growing number of Chinese companies developing their own drugs.

The company said today it has created a strategic alliance with Zhangjiang Biotech & Pharmaceutical Base Development Company (ZJ Base) in Pudong, Shanghai, which will build the facility under BI's tutelage. The plant will help develop and manufacturer biologic drugs using mammalian cell culture technology. BI will invest € 35 million ($44.9 million) in the plant, which it expects to be operating in 2016. It said it will employ up to 65 people.

Officials with the two companies said the ZJ Base offers Boehringer all the local knowledge needed to get a plant built in China, while Boehringer brings the know-how in biologics manufacturing. Chairman Christian Boehringer said the partnership "opens a further opportunity for Boehringer Ingelheim to participate in the growing demand for high quality biopharmaceuticals in China."

There are other companies, Chinese and Western, building biologics facilities in China. Innovent Biologics in November said it had picked up $25 million from investors, including Eli Lilly ($LLY), to build a 90,000-square-meter plant in Suzhou, China. Novartis ($NVS) is building a $500 million biologic drug manufacturing plant alongside a traditional drugmaking facility in Singapore. That plant, in Tuas, is slated for completion in 2016.

- here's the release