Recipharm, Fuji expand their biologics capabilities

Recipharm CEO Thomas Eldered

Another contract manufacturer, seeing the growth in biologic drugs, is putting capital into capacity to capture more of that market. Sweden-based Recipharm will make a significant investment to expand its freeze-drying capabilities at a plant in Germany.

The company said today that it will spend €32 million ($43.4 million) for a new building at its plant in Wasserburg, Germany, near Munich, adding a fourth production area for lyophilization operations. It said the plant's current freeze-dry operations are running at capacity. "Lyophilization is a fast growing technology which we believe will become even more important," said Recipharm CEO Thomas Eldered.

The company said the building is being designed so that additional lines can be added later. The expansion is expected to be complete by 2016, and nearly 40 workers will be added to the operation, bringing the total to 320.

Freeze-drying can be used to stabilize compounds in complex biologic drugs--which are expected to be a huge growth area in the future--until they are ready for use. Not only are more biologics being developed but older ones are going off patent and companies expect a big market in biosimilars. That will add to demands for expanded capacity in biologics and injectable drugs.

Among the findings in a recent industry report from CPhI was that the growth in biologics is likely to put pressure on contract manufacturing because so few have all the capabilities required for many of the new drugs. But many contractors and equipment suppliers are gearing up. Just this week, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies said its new mammalian cell culture cGMP manufacturing facility in the U.K. has come online, while German equipment maker Sartorius Stedim Biotech has struck a deal to buy TAP Biosystems, which specializes in the design and development of small-scale fermentation systems.

- here's the Recipharm announcement
- and the Fuji announcement
- see the CPhI report (PDF)