Services grow in Singapore with Asian clinical, manufacturing biologics boom

Singapore has gathered pace as a place for companies in Asia to source services related to biologic clinical and manufacturing with recent additions in the city-state highlighting niches in a growing market.

Almac's Singapore office--Courtesy of Almac

Just this year U.K.-based Almac to U.S.-based Sigma-Aldrich ($SIAL) and a recent local investment in Rapid Micro Biosystems of Series C equity financing from Singapore's EDBI, the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board, were among companies that expanded in Singapore.

An executive with Almac, on the sidelines of a recent industry conference this month, said a main reason is that companies can hire multilingual staff and explore wider business in areas like packaging and sourcing as part of a growing chain of logistics-type services that aid regulatory requirements in biologics clinical and manufacturing work.

"The ability to track products used in clinical trials in detail from temperature control to the time leaves a digital trail that regulators appreciate," said Paul O'Connor, global vice president for quality at Almac.

He highlighted the example of original biologic products sourced "a vial here or there from supplier warehouses" that can be used by biosimilar developers as reference models.

"That sourcing may come from all over the world, but every step is documented and that aids in clinical trial record keeping," O'Connor told FiercePharmaAsia. "Regulators can track each step in determining the clinical trial records."

In the case of Rapid Micro Biosystems, the aim is to spur global growth of a system for faster detection of microbial contamination in the manufacture of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and personal care products.

The applications for such services in Asia are wider with AbbVie ($ABBV), Amgen ($AMGN) and Novartis ($NVS) setting up Singapore manufacturing operations in biologics in the past few years that operate state-of-the-art manufacturing systems.

As well, the Sigma-Aldrich facility launched in April at Singapore's Biopolis Research Park brings existing commercial offices and production laboratories into a single location, together with a new Cell Culture Technical Center.

In addition to multinationals with new operations in the region, companies such as South Korea's Samsung Bioepis and Celltrion and India's Biocon, Intas, Cadila and Torrent are in the biosimilar race in earnest.

- here's the Rapid Micro Biosystems release (PDF)