Celltrion ‘wrapping up’ 50,000L expansion in Korea; eyes third plant

Celltrion says an additional 50,000 L of bioreactor capacity will come online next year. Meanwhile, the Korean drugmaker is “undecided” on the location of a third biomanufacturing facility.

A capacity expansion at Celltrion is close to completion, doubling the size of the firm’s first facility at its site in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea.

“Celltrion is currently wrapping up steps to add 50,000 liters of expanded capacity to its first plant based in Incheon,” spokesperson Heewon Park told BioProcess Insider.

Celltrion’s facilities are located in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea. Image: Fleetham CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons

Presently, Celltrion has two stainless steel facilities at its site in Songdo. The first has a production capacity of 50,000 L and the second has 90,000 L of stainless steel bioreactor systems.

The additional capacity will be completed by 2019, Heewon Park said, adding the extra capacity is necessary to “secure the flexibility of supplying its biopharmaceuticals to respond to the increasing global demand.”

Third plant

The expansion was first announced in May 2016 along with plans to add a third plant at the site boasting 120,000 L.

The proposed 325 billion won ($290 million) investment would support the production of Celltrion’s marketed biosimilars, the firm said at the time, including versions of Remicade (infliximab), Rituxan (rituximab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab), and “to respond to a request for CMO production from existing CMO customers and global pharmaceutical companies.”

But earlier this year, the Korea Herald reported Celltrion chairman Seo Jeong-jin told investors at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco it had scrapped plans for a third plant in South Korea in favor of a much larger facility overseas.

The Korean publication claimed the location of the proposed 360,000 L facility would be divulged in June, with construction commencing before the end of the year.

Clearly this has not been the case, but when asked Heewon Park told us further expansion is still planned but Celltrion is “undecided” on the location for its third biomanufacturing plant.

“We are considering all options, including Korea and abroad, to select the best location where Celltrion’s biosimilars can achieve the highest cost competitiveness.”

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