Recipharm enters into partnership with AZ for Swedish biomanufacturing facility

AstraZeneca is selling the AstraZeneca Biotech Laboratory (ABL) in Soedertaelje, Sweden, to Recipharm, a leading Swedish contract development and manufacturing organisation.

AstraZeneca is selling the AstraZeneca Biotech Laboratory (ABL) in Soedertaelje, Sweden, to Recipharm, a leading Swedish contract development and manufacturing organisation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Recipharm Biotech - a newly formed subsidiary of Recipharm - will lease the ABL from AstraZeneca for an initial period of 12 years. Recipharm Biotech will also purchase all associated equipment, and the majority of the existing ABL staff will transfer employment to Recipharm Biotech.

AstraZeneca will retain a significant minority stake in the new company, in addition to entering into a supply arrangement for Phase I and Phase II material for one of its development projects. No financial terms were disclosed.

The divestment of the ABL follows AstraZeneca's recent acquisition of MedImmune through which it gained extensive biotechnology manufacturing capabilities. As a result, AstraZeneca has consolidated all biotech activities within MedImmune at its sites in the UK and the US.

This acquisition follows Recipharm's purchase in August of lyphilisation facilities from Inotech Labor, located in Basel, Switzerland. Together, these allow the company to offer a one-stop biomanufacturing shop, taking projects from cell-line development based on the gene of interest, right through to finished products for pre-clinical and early clinical studies.

The ABL is a pilot plant facility built for the small-scale development and supply of recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies in clinical trials and regulatory approvals. The facility holds a GMP and import licence from the Swedish regulatory authorities for the production of recombinant biological products in bulk using mammalian cells.

The multi-purpose facility offers both fed-batch and continuous perfusion culture, where up to 1,000 litres/week of culture supernatant can be purified to a bulk drug substance. There are also plans in place to increase its fed-batch production capacity and flexibility with the installation of a new suite of 250 to 1,000 litre disposable bioreactors.

The handover date for the facility is set for 1 January 2009.

"We are very pleased to have acquired these state-of-the art, biopharmaceutical development and GMP production facilities from AstraZeneca," said Thomas Eldered, Recipharm ceo and managing director. "This acquisition considerably expands our service offering as we can now provide contract drug development and production services for both small and large molecular drugs, strengthening our overall position in the outsourcing market for biopharmaceuticals."

"Acquiring this specialist biomanufacturing facility represents a further step towards achieving our goal of becoming one of the top three contract pharmaceuticals development and manufacturing organisations in the world."

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