Sanofi and Lonza Biologics Production Facility, Visp, Switzerland

scientist doing science

Leading Switzerland-based biopharmaceuticals supplier Lonza and French life sciences firm Sanofi have announced a joint venture (JV) to set up a large-scale biologics production facility in Visp, Switzerland.

The new site will support the production of monoclonal antibodies.

The project will require an investment of approximately CHF290m (€270m or $285m), which will be shared equally between the two JV partners.

The facility is expected to be fully operational by 2020.

Strategic partnership for the biologics facility in Visp

The partnership with Sanofi is part of Lonza's strategy to address the long-term needs of its operating markets by establishing a state-of-the-art strategic biologics manufacturing platform.

The terms of the JV state that Lonza is free to market its share of the capacity if Sanofi doesn't require it, as well as any capacity unused by Sanofi.

Both partners have flexibility to alter their equity shareholding in the JV in future, and access the bio-manufacturing capacity that is proportionate to their shareholding.

Sanofi will benefit from the dedicated capacity at the plant and the flexibility to increase its share if necessary.

Lonza will bring its expertise in building and operating large-scale mammalian cell culture facilities to the JV project. The company has built three mammalian cell culture facilities in the US and Singapore, and as such possesses prior experience in designing, constructing, operating and licensing such large-scale facilities.

Sanofi will bring its experience in developing and launching biologics-based treatment to the strategic joint venture. It is estimated that roughly 60% of the firm's drug pipeline consists of biologics in multiple areas, including cardiovascular, immunology and inflammation, neurology and oncology.

Construction of the Visp biologics facility

Sanofi and Lonza plan to begin initial construction works on the project in 2017, while full-fledged construction will be taken up upon receiving necessary regulatory approvals.

"The project will require an investment of approximately CHF290m (€270m or $285m), which will be shared equally between the two JV partners."

Construction is expected to be fully completed in approximately three years.

Marketing commentary on Lonza and Sanofi

Lonza was founded in 1897, and is a leading supplier to the pharmaceutical, biotech and specialty ingredients markets.

Custom-manufacturing and development capabilities enable the company to offer a wide range of products, from active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to drinking water sanitizers, nutritional and personal care ingredients to agricultural products, and industrial preservatives to microbial control solutions.

The firm employs more than 10,000 people worldwide and oversees 40 major manufacturing and research and development (R&D) facilities.

It operates in two business segments, Specialty Ingredients and Pharma & Biotech, and its pharma and biotech offerings include custom development and manufacturing, and bioscience solutions.

Sanofi is a pharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and distribution of therapeutic solutions to patients worldwide.

The group became the world's fifth biggest healthcare company in 2015, with aggregate sales of €37bn and a staff of more than 11,000 employees.

Sanofi has presence in more than 100 countries and industrial sites in more than 40 countries.

The company focuses on innovation in human vaccines, rare diseases, multiple sclerosis, oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular and consumer healthcare solutions.

Sanofi announced a €300m ($340m) investment to expand its biologics manufacturing site in Geel, Belgium in 2016, in order to support the production of monoclonal antibodies.

The expansion is expected to be completed in 2017.