Celltrion eyes US biomanufacturing plant on back of Biden’s Executive Order

With the US Government pushing a domestic biomanufacturing policy, Korean drugmaker Celltrion says it assessing building a facility in the country.

In September last year, US President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to advance domestic biotechnology and biomanufacturing innovation. The White House has further advanced its position through the publication of a series of goals and priorities this month to support the Order.

In a press conference Wednesday, Celltrion Group Chairman Seo Jung-jin said the Korean firm is “keeping a close eye on the Biden executive order,” the Korea Biomedical Review reported.

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“With so much of our revenue coming from the US market, there is no reason to avoid building a plant in the US.”

When contacted, a spokesperson confirmed “Celltrion is currently following up with the guideline of the US government.”

Specifics remain under wraps for now. “When the detailed guideline is released, Celltrion will review and consider building the facility in a way that can bring synergy in the market.”

Like fellow Korea-based drugmaker Samsung Biologics, Celltrion has built up its biologics production network within its home city of Songdo, Incheon. The firm has two biologics plant with 190,000 L of bioreactor capacity operational, while a third manufacturing plant was announced in November 2020 at a cost of KRW 500 billion ($383 million). Plans for a fourth and even fifth facility in Songdo were also mooted as the firm eyed a total capacity of 600,000 L of capacity by 2030.

“Celltrion is currently building third facility in Korea and is under the stage of reviewing building the fourth in various angles,” the spokesperson told us.

The US concept is not the first time Celltrion has looked outside of Korea to grow its network. The firm signed a construction agreement with Wuhan city and the provincial government of Hubei Province for the construction of a 120,000 L biosimilars plant in China in January 2020. However, weeks later the idea was put on ice as the full emergency of COVID-19 made itself clear.