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AstraZeneca Building New Biologics Plant

AstraZeneca laboratory

AstraZeneca laboratory in Södertälje, Sweden (AstraZeneca)

18 May 2015. The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca plans to build a new facility in Södertälje, Sweden to manufacture biologic medications. The $285 million plant is expected to employ from 150 to 250 workers when it goes into operation in 2019.

Södertälje is the site of AstraZeneca’s largest factory for making tablets and capsules, as well as its facility for launching new medication products. The plant now employs some 3,800 workers, with the ability to produce large quantities of new specialized pharmaceuticals. The company says the new biologics plant is the first of a three-part initiative to expand its biologics manufacturing capacity, but neither details of the next phases nor timelines were revealed.

The need for additional biologics capacity, notes company CEO Pascal Soriot, is a result of the prominent role now played by biologics in AstraZeneca’s corporate strategy, representing nearly half of the company’s overall pipeline. “We expect to bring a significantly increased number of new specialty care medicines to patients in the coming years, driven in large part by biologics,” says Soriot in a company statement. “This new plant will give us greater capacity and flexibility to handle clinical trials, and will also play an important role in our future commercial production.”

Most of AstraZeneca’s biologic therapies are developed by its MedImmune biotechnology subsidiary in Gaithersburg, Maryland. MedImmune is the maker of Synagis, an engineered antibody to prevent children’s lower respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus, as well as FluMist influenza vaccines. MedImmune says it has 120 biologics in its research pipeline addressing respiratory, automimmune, cardiovascular, and metabolic disorders, as well as cancer.

The new biologics plant in Södertälje joins Frederick, Maryland near MedImmune’s headquarters for production of biologics. In November 2014, AstraZeneca announced a $200 million expansion of the Frederick plant to build more biologics manufacturing capacity, eventually adding some 300 employees.

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Hat tip: FirstWord Pharma

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