Thermo Fisher adding 12,000L to bio-capacity with Swiss plant from CSL

Thermo Fisher will take over operations at CSL’s biomanufacturing site in Lengnau – currently under construction – adding 12,000 L of stainless-steel bioreactor capacity to its CDMO network.

CSL Behring broke ground on the 1.5 million square-foot site in Lengnau, near Bern in Switzerland back in 2015, with plans to use the facilities to manufacture recombinant products, specifically in its hematology pipeline.

At the time, the firm, which invested approximately CHF 1 billion ($1 billion) into the project, said the site was “part of an ongoing global strategy to expand capacity and is of crucial importance to the company’s long-term growth plans.”

Image: iStock/Igor Vershinsky

But in a deal announced last week, CSL has chosen instead to lease the Lengnau facility to Thermo Fisher, which will run it as part of its contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) network.

The agreement “gives the Lengnau site a clear path forward for its workforce and a strong future with a global employer that is a leader in serving science and patients,” said CSL spokesperson Natalie de Vane.

“With a plan for additional investment in the site jointly by Thermo Fisher and CSL, the arrangement will generate continued economic activity and benefit for the Canton of Bern and the community.”

The deal brings benefits to both CSL and Thermo Fisher, she told us. For Thermo Fisher, the CDMO gains “an accelerated pathway to additional manufacturing capacity that will support continued growth in its established biotherapeutics services,” she said.

“For CSL, the partnership will ensure a positive future for Lengnau operations, create access to a wide range of Thermo Fisher’s value-adding capabilities and capacities, and enable us to optimize the return on our shareholders’ investment in Lengnau.

“Additionally, through this strategic partnership, Thermo Fisher will provide both its CDMO services as well as other capabilities to support CSL’s global operations and help us to drive efficiencies. The Lengnau site is a large, complex project and CSL and Thermo Fisher are joining forces to meet needs of both companies and to utilize the full capabilities of the facility.”

Financials of the deal have not been divulged but de Vane said the deal will allow CSL to finish construction at Lengnau while investing capital in “other high-priority projects.”

CSL Behring has manufacturing sites in Australia, the US (Illinois), Germany, and China, but de Vane

said the partnership with Thermo Fisher is not part of a wider strategy to outsource manufacturing. “CSL made a specific strategic decision regarding Lengnau and a broader initiative effecting other facilities is not under consideration at this time.”

Thermo Fisher and the CDMO space

Thermo Fisher has steadily grown its CDMO operations since its acquisition of Patheon for $7.2 billion in 2017. Investments have included the continued build out of the former-Patheon biologics St. Louis, Missouri facility, doubling capacity at the site through a $50 million investment and planning to open a Bioprocessing Collaboration Center at the site later this year.

This latest lease “will feature highly flexible bioproduction technologies, including single-use and stainless steel, providing a pathway from development to large-scale production,” a Thermo Fisher spokesperson told us. “The site will initially include 12kL Stainless Steel bioreactors for high-volume production.”

Once construction is complete – expected in 2021 – “Thermo Fisher will support manufacturing of CSL’s next-generation product for hemophilia patients. Over time, Thermo Fisher plans to expand the use of the site to include additional biopharma customers.”

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