Celltrion To Ramp Up Biosimilar Program With New Production Plant

At the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that took place this week in San Francisco, California, Republic of Korea-based biotech company Celltrion announced that it is preparing to build a new overseas production plant that will add to the strength of its biosimilar program.
Samantha DiGrande
January 12, 2018
At the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that took place this week in San Francisco, California, Republic of Korea-based biotech company Celltrion announced that it is preparing to build a new overseas production plant that will add to the strength of its biosimilar program.

The new plant, with a production capacity of 360,000 liters, is triple the capacity of what Celltrion had initially planned. This decision was made to “ensure stable supplies as well as leverage on economy of scale to further lower the prices of its biosimilar drugs,” said Celltrion’s CEO, Jung Jin Seo.

The company currently owns 2 other production plants that, when running at full capacity, are capable of 50,000 liters and 90,000 liters, respectively.

During Seo’s presentation, he compared Celltrion to major global pharmaceutical companies such as Amgen and Genentech. Currently, Celltrion has 2 biosimilars on the market: infliximab (marketed as Inflectra in the United States, and referenced on Remicade), and rituximab (marketed as Truxima in the European Union, referenced on Rituxan).

Celltrion is also in the process of carrying out clinical trials of adalimumab (based on AbbVie’s Humira) and bevacizumab (based on Genentech’s Avastin) biosimilars. In order to create a competitive edge, the company says that it plans to develop its adalimumab biosimilar as a high-concentrate formula which enables a smaller injection volume than is currently on the market.

For its bevacizumab biosimilar, the company expects to be the first on a global scale to bring a bevacizumab biosimilar to the market, kicking off sales with a “first-mover advantage,” said Seo. However, there some biosimilar developers are further along than Celltrion in their bevacizumab programs. In November 2017, Indian drug maker Biocon announced that it launched a bevacizumab biosimilar in India. In addition, Amgen’s biosimilar, Mvasi, received FDA approval last year, though it has not yet been marketed.

Also in Celltrion’s pipeline is a subcutaneous-administration version of infliximab, which is not yet available in the market, as well as cetuximab (referenced on Erbitux) to treat colorectal cancer, and palivizumab (referenced on Synagis), which has a major indication for respiratory diseases.

Looking to the future, Celltrion is interested in potentially investing in the medical device business; as Seo reports, Celltrion sees big opportunities in both telemedicine and the next-generation diagnostics market. In the years ahead, “the firm plans to make strategic investments in these businesses,” said Seo.

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