UCB opens biologics plant in Belgium

Belgian drugmaker UCB Pharma has completed a €65 million ($84.8 million) biologics plant to take more control over the development and manufacturing of its biologics products.

The company has said the plant in Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium, has a 528-gallon bioreactor and three 106-gallon production bioreactors. This plant was designed so that a second 528-gallon bioreactor can be added if demand calls for it.

Stefanos Ioannis Grammatikos, of UCB biological process development, said in a posting on the company's magazine last year, UCB believes that the plant will lower costs and give it more flexibility and speed in development and clinical manufacturing of biologics. It currently contracts much of that work out. He also said the company had received incentives from the region that made the investment more attractive. The company already has extensive operations in Braine.

He emphasized that the company expects to learn a lot from having the plant and doing a kind of manufacturing that is significantly different from "classical chemical synthesis." He said, "it's a very complex and delicate process, and it can be less predictable than working with chemicals."

The plant in Braine is not the only manufacturing project UCB has undertaken so that it will no longer rely on contract manufacturing. Late last year, the company said it was investing roughly $335 million in a 215,000-square-foot bioprocessing factory in the Swiss state of Fribourg. That facility is slated to open in 2015. It will manufacture, among other products, UCB's rheumatoid arthritis drug Cimzia, which currently is produced by a contractor.

- see UCB Pharma's announcement
- get more from UCB's online magazine