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Company to Build Singapore Biotech Facility

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted November 1, 2012

Healthcare giant Novartis International AG (NYSE: NVS) is set to develop a new biotech production facility in Singapore. The facility and development represents a serious investment worth more than $500 million.

The new facility, located in Tuas, Singapore with the pharmaceutical production site, will center on drug substance production based on cell culture technology. Novartis anticipates Singapore will become a hotspot for the company’s biotech and pharma efforts.

From the press release:

“This investment further strengthens our strategy to establish key strategic sites based on technological competencies. Singapore will be strengthened through a new state-of-the-art facility for biotechnology which is a growing segment of our business”, said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. “We have chosen Singapore as strategic supply point as it offers a wide range of advantages due to its strong local biomedical presence and knowledge, skilled labor as well as proximity to growth markets in Asia.”

The new production facility will likely be wholly operational by 2017, with groundbreaking expected in the first quarter of next year.

It will support clinical and commercial production of new products, including monoclonal antibodies targeting autoimmune, respiratory, and oncological problems.

Currently, the biologics pipeline comprises 25 percent of the company’s clinical pharmaceutical research, the press release states.

Novartis’ product portfolio has a healthy biologics component, featuring LucentisR, a therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetes-related visual impairment, and macular edema secondary to retinal vein occlusion.

The drug, developed with Genentech/Roche, had international sales totaling more than $2 billion in 2012.

Another drug, Xolair—used for persistent allergic asthma—reached yearly worldwide sales of $1 billion in 2011.

Novartis already has a significant presence in Singapore, with the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, their Asia-Pacific head offices, and two Alcon production facilities and one pharma manufacturing site.