Novartis to build US$500m biotechnology plant in Singapore

Expected to be fully operational by the end of 2016

Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis is to build a new US$500m state-of-the-art biotechnology production site in Singapore to support its growing biologics pipeline.

The new facility will focus on drug substance manufacturing based on cell culture technology. It will be co-located with the pharmaceutical production site based in Tuas, Singapore. In the future, Novartis expects Singapore to be a technological competence centre for both biotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Groundbreaking for the new site is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013, with full operation by the end of 2016.

‘This investment further strengthens our strategy to establish key strategic sites based on technological competencies. Singapore will be strengthened through a new state-of-the-art facility for biotechnology which is a growing segment of our business,’ said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis.

‘We have chosen Singapore as a strategic supply point as it offers a wide range of advantages due to its strong local biomedical presence and knowledge, skilled labour, as well as proximity to growth markets in Asia.’

The investment underlines Novartis’ long-term strategy to establish a worldwide manufacturing network of technology centres of excellence.

The site will handle small- and large-scale volumes, supporting clinical and commercial production of new products that include monoclonal antibodies for use in autoimmune, respiratory and oncology treatments.

The Novartis biologics portfolio currently accounts for 25% of the current clinical pharmaceutical research pipeline.

The portfolio includes Lucentis (ranibizumab), the only anti-VEGF therapy licensed for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema (DME), and visual impairment due to macular edema secondary to retinal vein occlusion (RVO), and Xolair (omalizumab), an anti-IgE antibody for the treatment of persistent allergic asthma.

Novartis has several operations in Singapore, including the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), the Novartis Asia-Pacific head offices and two production facilities for Alcon, as well as one pharmaceutical manufacturing site.