AbbVie picks Singapore for a $320M production facility

Singapore has become a biopharma manufacturing hub, drawing the likes of Novartis ($NVS), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Amgen ($AMGN). Even Russia's Pharmstandard has an API facility there. Now AbbVie ($ABBV) will join the group.

AbbVie's Humira is the best-selling drug in the world--FiercePharma file photo
AbbVie's Humira is the best-selling drug in the world--FiercePharma file photo

The maker of Humira, the best-selling drug in the world, said Wednesday that it will invest $320 million to build its first facility in Asia. The plant will be designed for both small-molecule production and biologic active ingredients for AbbVie's oncology and immunology pipeline. "Our presence in Singapore will help assure geographic balance and continuity of product supply as well as increased capacity to deliver on our growing biologics and small molecule product pipeline," Azita Saleki-Gerhardt, senior vice president of operations at AbbVie, said in a statement.

AbbVie said the facility will have 250 workers once it is operational in 2019. The company has R&D facilities in Tokyo and Shanghai, China, as well as commercial operations throughout Asia. In fact, the company said it already has about 120 people in Singapore supporting those units. The facility will be part of a network currently made up of 12 manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Europe and Puerto Rico.

AbbVie, which was spun off from Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) at the beginning of last year, currently relies predominantly on sales of Humira. The company turned in $18.8 billion in revenue last year, and $10.7 billion came from the rheumatoid arthritis drug. But it is working on new products to expand its portfolio. Its most anticipated candidate is an interferon-free hepatitis C product that when used in combo with other drugs is expected to cure up to 90% of patients of the virus. AbbVie plans to submit the drug for FDA approval in the second quarter.

- here's the release