Thermo Fisher to enter cell therapy CDMO space with NJ facility

Thermo Fisher says it is planning to open a cell therapy development and manufacturing collaboration center in Princeton as part of a $475 million investment in its biopharma capabilities.

Thermo Fisher has grown its contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) business firstly through its $7.2 billion acquisition of Patheon in 2017, and secondly through last year’s $1.7 billion Brammer Bio buy.

The latter propelled Thermo Fisher into advanced therapy production with viral vector capacity it has since expanded upon (see here and here), but now the firm has announced plans to move into the cell therapy space through a development and manufacturing collaboration center in Princeton, New Jersey set to open later this year.

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“The center is designed to accelerate our cell therapy platform of the future, enable success to transition of R&D to process development, and a seamless transfer to GMP manufacture,” Leon Wyszkowski, president of Commercial Operations at Thermo Fisher Scientific, said on a webinar discussing investment plans this week.

He added the concept is to build end-to-end cell manufacture workload solutions that can drive simplified processes with higher degrees of automaton while significantly reducing costs and improving the robustness and reliability of cell therapy GMP manufacture.

This will be the firm’s first venture into cell therapy manufacturing and comes months after rival CDMO Catalent added cell therapy production to its advanced therapies business through the $315 million acquisition of Masthercell.

$475 million investment

The center is part of Thermo’s plans to invest more than $475 million in new biopharma capabilities and capacity in 2020.

“We’ve invested strategically to ensure that lack of capabilities, capacity or supply is never a reason medicines are delayed in reaching patients,” Mike Shafer, president of Thermo Fisher’s pharma services business said.

“Our offering can provide solutions at all points along the pathway to commercialization, whether it’s an emerging biotech working on vaccine for a novel virus or a high-volume pharmaceutical manufacturer delivering necessary drugs at scale.”

Other projects include the continued build out of the biologics St. Louis, Missouri facility run by Patheon. Thermo has already doubled capacity at the site through a $50 million investment but now says it plans to open a Bioprocessing Collaboration Center at the site in July, intended to bring multiple Thermo Fisher businesses together to jointly develop new bioprocessing products, workflows and services for customers.

Other expansions are planned in the firm’s commercial packaging business, its QC capabilities, and its sterile manufacturing operations. The latter has already been subject to a $150 million boost last year.

The $425 million CAPEX spend this year is $150 million more than the capital expenditure laid out in 2019 and remains in line with the company’s forecast back in January, despite the recent uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis.

“We’re assuming net capital expenditures in the range of $1 billion to $1.1 billion,” CFO Stephen Williamson told investors on a Q4 call, in relation to Thermo Fisher’s entire business. “This represents an increase in investments of approximately $150 million over 2019, driven by capacity and capability expansions in our pharma services and bioproduction businesses.”

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