Celltrion outlines 120,000L China plant and corporate rejig

Celltrion has confirmed it will build a biosimilars plant in China and may merge its healthcare and pharma units.

A spokesman told Bioprocess Insider: “Celltrion plans to build a plant in China in a move to directly advance into the world’s second-largest biopharmaceutical market. Celltrion signed a business agreement with the city government of Wuhan and the provincial government of Hubei Province on 20 January 2020.

“The company’s business roadmap centers on building a plant with a production capacity of 120,000 liters in China to boost capacity amid rising demand. The plant will not only manufacture biopharmaceutical products but also include CMO business,” he added.

Celltrion’s headquarters and facilities in Songdo, South Korea. Image/GoogleStreetview

The spokesman went on to say that “Celltrion will eventually also set up its sales and manufacturing infrastructure in China and a portfolio of 16 products tailored for the Chinese market will be set up by 2030.

The comments came after Celltrion chairman Seo Jung-jin announced plans for the China plant at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference last week.

Also, according to the Yonhap News Agency, Celltrion will sell Remsima, a biosimilar version of Janssen Biotech’s autoimmune disease drug Remicade (infliximab), in China.

The subcutaneous formulation of Remsima was approved by the European Commission for patients with rheumatoid arthritis in November 2019

Celltrion Healthcare, the firm’s distribution arm, has applied for a further extension to the marketing authorization to include inflammatory bowel disease.

This EU decision is expected in mid-2020.

Merger?

In related news, Celltrion is considering merging its Celltrion Healthcare Co. and Celltrion Pharm Inc businesses.

According to a regulatory filing published last Friday (here in Korean), the firm is conducting an internal review to assess such a merger.

Celltrion Pharma is the firm’s drug business, while Celltrion Healthcare handles distribution in overseas markets.

According to the Pulse newswire, Seo shared the possibility of a merger at the JP Morgan conference.

He told delegates such a move would create synergy by integrating development, production and distribution.

Enhanced ADC platform

Seo also shared details of Celltrion’s drug development plan, which will involve a new platform technology and drug repositioning.

According to a company statement the tech – the Antibody Delivery Enhancing Domain (ADED) – is designed to increase the delivery efficiency of antibody-drug conjugates and their cell penetration.

Celltrion said the approach “has the potential to enhance cancer treatments.”

Celltrion partnered with ADED developer iProgen Biotech last year. At the time the firm said the plan was to develop novel ADCs against validated antibody targets, including HER2 and CD20.

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