Repligen up on OPUS and gene therapy demand

Repligen says it will continue to expand capacity to feed demand for its OPUS range of prepacked chromatography columns.

For the full year 2019, revenues at bioprocess vendor Repligen Corporation came in at $270 million (€250 million), up from $194 million in 2018. Revenues grew across all the firm’s divisions, with organic growth of 20%, 30% and 40% for Repligen’s proteins, filtration and chromatography franchises, respectively.

And within the chromatography franchise, the firm’s OPUS range of prepacked chromatography columns stood out.

Image: iStock/Oakozhan

“Our OPUS business finished up over 30% for the quarter and 50% for the year. The story in the quarter was the continued adoption of our prepacked column technology in CDMOs and gene therapy accounts, which now account for 20% of our OPUS revenue,” said CEO Tony Hunt in a conference call discussing results.

“We delivered approximately 1,400 columns to our customer base in 2019, up from 700 columns in 2018.”

Part of this was the demand driven by a robust biologics market. “In the US alone, 10 new mAbs [monoclonal antibodies] and two gene therapy drugs were approved in 2019, said Hunt. “With a rich pipeline of over 1,000 biological drug candidates, the expectations are high for strong growth in the years ahead.”

And increased capacity allowed Repligen to feed the demand. “We were able to improve our lead times significantly by bringing five new production suites online in December,” said Hunt.

Last year, the firm announced investment plans to add two OPUS manufacturing suites at its Ravensburg, Germany site and six suites at its Waltham, Massachusetts. Those were expected to come online during the first three to nine months of 2020, so it’s not clear whether the five suites which began production in December formed part of that investment.

“We expect continued momentum for OPUS in 2020 as our customers scale and expand. We expect our OPUS franchise to grow at or above 20% in overall chromatography at 15% in 2020.”

Gene therapy

Repligen also spoke about the growing demand for its products from the gene therapy sector, something Hunt was vocal about at last month’s JP Morgan Healthcare conference.

Talking last week, Hunt said Repligen has more than 50 “significant customers” in the gene therapy space, and the sector now represents around 15% of the firm’s total business.

“We haven’t seen any slowdown in gene therapy, and we’re expecting gene therapy will grow about 30% for us in 2020.”

Gene therapy was cited as “chief among the many tailwinds that underpinned Repligen’s accelerated growth in 2019” by Jefferies analyst Brandon Couillard.

“By our math, this surge in gene therapy demand accounted for two-thirds of Repligen’s accelerated core growth of +33% in ’19 (from +17% in ’18),” he wrote in a note.

“Looking ahead, with the cell/gene therapy market expected to grow 2-3x faster than the broader ~$10 billion bioprocessing market over the next three to five years, the mix shift should continue to be accretive to its overall growth profile over time.”

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