Global Markets

German plant fastest option to make approved Ebola vaccine, says Merck

Merck & Co expects to complete production of the first batches of Ervebo – its newly EC-licensed Ebola vaccine – at its Burgwedel plant by late 2020. The European Commission (EC) granted Ervebo conditional marketing authorization for the active immunization of individuals 18 years of age or older to protect against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) caused by Zaire Ebola virus this week. The decision was based on data submitted for accelerated assessment in March. Merck – which is known as…

Who got the Funk? Not Lonza, as CEO unexpectedly quits

Marc Funk has stepped down from his position as CEO after only nine months and is leaving Lonza, citing personal reasons. Marc Funk was made CEO of Swiss contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Lonza in March this year, after his predecessor Richard Ridinger retired following a seven-year tenure. But just nine months on, Lonza has announced Funk is leaving the company “for personal reasons,” handing the CEO baton to chairman Albert Baehny on an interim basis until a permanent…

Aspen alert! Novartis buys assets for $330m in Japan boost

Novartis division Sandoz has acquired the Japanese business of Aspen Global Incorporated (AGI), bolstering its biosimilar and generics presence in the region. South African pharma firm Aspen Holdings opened the Japanese subsidiary Aspen Japan K.K. in May 2015, with an aim bring its oncology, immunosuppressant, anti-inflammatory, hypertension, and anticoagulant products to the market. Today, Sandoz, the generics and biosimilar division of Swiss Biopharma firm Novartis, has announced it will pay an initial €300 million ($330 million) to buy shares in…

Biomanufacturing capacity: 45% growth but new blockbusters could leave shortage

Biomanufacturing volumes are set to increase by 45% to 6,400 kL over five years. But with demand growing at over 10% per year and the potential arrival of Alzheimer’s MAbs, there may still be a shortage in capacity. In a report published in conjunction with the CPhI Worldwide meeting in Frankfurt, Germany this week, Dawn Ecker, director of bioTRAK Database Services, BioProcess Technology Group, BDO, spoke of the current capacity availability within the biologics industry and potential restraints in the…

GSK Q3: Shingrix shines but adjuvant will drive future vaccines

GSK says the adjuvant platform used in Shingrix will be the “backbone” of its future vaccine strategy. The shingles vaccine pulled in sales of £535 million ($693 million) for the third quarter. For the quarter, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) reported group sales of £9.4 billion, up 11% on the previous year. Its vaccines unit grew 15% year-on-year to £2.3 billion with its non-live, recombinant subunit vaccine for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster), Shingrix, pulling in £535 million – up 76% year-on-year.…

Amgen takes $2.7bn stake in BeiGene to up presence in China

Amgen will look to commercialize several of its biologics and advance 20 oncology candidates in China as it acquires roughly 20% of local drugmaker BeiGene. During Amgen’s third quarter 2019 financial call this week, CEO Bob Bradway noted his firm’s excitement of having recently launched its first product in China – cardiovascular disease monoclonal antibody Repatha (evolocumab). “We expect this to become an important market for us through time,” he told investors. Days later, and the biopharma firm has struck…

J&J downgrades biosimilar threat as Q3 pulls in $10bn+ in pharma sales

J&J reported its sixth consecutive quarter with sales above $10 billion in its pharmaceutical division and has lowered its biosimilar headwind forecast to $2 billion. For the third quarter 2019, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) reported sales across all its units of $20.7 billion (€18.8 billion). Its pharmaceutical division pulled in roughly half of the total, $10.8 billion, up 5.1% on the same quarter last year. “This was our sixth consecutive quarter with sales above $10 billion,” Jennifer Taubert, EVP and…

Swiss CDMO Lonza testing the water in China… for now

With China set to become a major hub of biotech innovation, Lonza CEO Marc Funk says the CDMO will take a pragmatic approach to expanding its position from “timid actor” to major player in the region. When Marc Funk became CEO of Lonza in March 2019, he had two immediate objectives. The first was to carve out the contract development and manufacturing organization’s (CDMO) Specialty Ingredients segment (LSI) and the second was for the firm to be recognized more of…

Novartis supply-ready for approved wet AMD antibody fragment

Novartis says it is confident in its ability to supply Beovu (brolucizumab) after the single-chain antibody fragment received US FDA approval for treating wet AMD. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week approved Novartis’ anti-VEGF product Beovu for the treatment of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on a three-month dosing interval. A Novartis spokesperson did not divulge where the antibody fragment is made but told this publication the firm is confident in its ability to meet…

‘Unprecedented’ HPV vaccine demand to fuel more Merck capacity investments

Having recently invested over $1.6 billion in its network, Merck says it is committed to further expand the supply of its HPV vaccines as worldwide demand continues to spiral. Speaking at the at Morgan Stanley 17th Annual Global Healthcare Conference last month, Roger Perlmutter, EVP and president of Merck Research Laboratories, said human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines Gardasil and Gardasil 9 were the products that have the dominant near-term commercial potential for his firm. But a lack of manufacturing capacity at…