Roche partner Chugai significantly expanding antibody capacity at Japan plant

Japan's Chugai has been expanding its plant in Ukima as its work with majority owner Roche ($RHHBY) on antibody drugs has required more capacity. Now it will expand much more.

The drugmaker said today it would spend ¥37.2 billion ($309 million) to add an active pharmaceutical ingredient plant at the Ukima site to make antibody APIs capable of high-mix, low-volume production for late-stage investigational drugs and initial commercial products. It said it will install 6 bioreactor tanks of 6,000 liters each, bringing the capacity at Ukima to 49,000 liters.

Roche owns just shy of 60% of the Japanese subsidiary, after first investing in it in 2002. The two have been working on monoclonal antibody drugs. Earlier this year, they launched the BRAF inhibitor Zelbora in Japan to treat late-stage melanoma.

For the past couple of years, Chugai has been in the midst of a ¥2.9 billion ($25 million) expansion project at Ukima to double its production capacity there. It said today that because "this reinforcement of production facility has been working successfully, Chugai made a decision to invest for a new production plant manufacturing antibody API."

- here's the release

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