Daiichi Sankyo plots €1B expansion to beef up antibody-drug conjugate production in Germany

After laying out plans to absorb a pair of production subsidiaries in October, Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo is doubling down on its quest to dominate the red-hot antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) field.

Aiming to create an “international innovation center,” Daiichi is plugging roughly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) into an expansion of its production and development site in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, just north of the company’s European headquarters in Munich.

The project—which is expected to create at least 350 new jobs by 2030—will equip the site to develop and manufacture future ADCs targeting malignancies like breast, lung and stomach cancers, Daiichi said in a recent press release.

The expansion process has already kicked off, with work on the project expected to wrap up by 2030 “at the latest,” Daiichi said. The new ADC infrastructure being added at Pfaffenhofen is slated for completion by the end of 2026.

Once the site’s ADC facilities are up and running, Daiichi figures it will “most likely rise to the top league of biotech companies” in the region.

With a legacy spanning more than 60 years, the Pfaffenhofen site contributes “significantly” to Daiichi Sankyo’s global production capacity, the company says on its European website. Traditionally, the site has focused on manufacturing and developing medicines for cardiovascular diseases, including the stroke, thrombosis and pulmonary embolism drug edoxaban and the olmesartan product line for hypertension.

Aside from adding ADC capabilities, the expansion has been tipped to boost capacity for the Pfaffenhofen site’s bread-and-butter work in cardiovascular disease. The investment will also strengthen the site’s quality assurance and logistics and help bring more renewable energy online, Daiichi added.

The site manufactures both active pharmaceutical ingredients and solid dose forms like tablets and film-coated capsules, which Daiichi ships from Pfaffenhofen to more than 50 countries.

“The fact that we will focus more on oncological therapies in Pfaffenhofen in the future is positive in two respects,” Matthias Kühn, Daiichi’s site manager at the facility, said in a statement. “On the one hand, we can make a significant contribution to the increased global demand for ADC cancer therapies. On the other hand, we are demonstrating our future viability and the top quality that we provide here.”

The ADC field has been on the rise in recent years, yielding investments and acquisitions across the biopharma industry. While companies like Pfizer and Roche originally beat Daiichi to the regulatory finish line with their own ADCs, Daiichi and its AstraZeneca-partnered treatment Enhertu helped put the modality on the map.

Daiichi is slated to keep that winning streak rolling through the rest of the decade, too, analysts at GlobalData predicted last summer. The analysts expect Daiichi’s ADC sales will top $10 billion by 2029, well ahead of the respective $5.8 billion and $3.6 billion GlobalData figures Seagen and Roche will generate with their ADCs in that same span.

Looking beyond its pipeline and portfolio, Daiichi charted another ADC manufacturing move last fall when it unveiled an absorption-type merger of two of its subsidiaries—Daiichi Sankyo Propharma and Daiichi Sankyo Chemical Pharma—which is expected to go into effect on April 1, 2025.

At the time, Daiichi said the merger was necessary to “stably supply” ADCs and accelerate the development of new modalities.