Insight - Manufacturing

Global Manufacturing for Today and Tomorrow

July 16, 2015

Over the past several weeks, Biogen has taken several important steps to bolster our long-term manufacturing infrastructure and global drug supply network to meet the future needs of patients and the growth of our organization. As a company we are committed to ensuring an uninterrupted supply of medicines to patients around the world – particularly as our portfolio of therapies grows. As we look to the future and the progress of pipeline programs in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, we must be ready to deliver on this potential.

Biogen’s strategy has three important components: significantly increasing our capacity to manufacture complex biologics; adding new capabilities to give us greater control over drug production, packaging and assembly; and streamlining and modernizing our existing processes and facilities to be more nimble and efficient.

The centerpiece of this strategy was our recent announcement to expand production capacity by building a next-generation, large-scale biologics manufacturing facility in Solothurn, Switzerland. This facility will be one of the most advanced of its kind and will enhance our biologics manufacturing leadership both in terms of productivity and capacity. It will use new technologies pioneered by our technical development teams, which will enable us to make significantly more antibodies at a much faster rate.  In addition, the plant will be modular in design so we can quickly add more capacity if we need it.

We expect approval to start construction before 2016. When the facility is operational at the end of the decade, we hope to produce 10 metric tons of antibodies per year, making it three times more productive than our other facilities currently in use.

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Secondly, we will expand our capabilities by completing the acquisition of a drug product manufacturing campus in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina from Eisai Inc. This acquisition adds important capabilities and capacity for filling biologics into vials and provides Biogen a highly skilled workforce located minutes from our existing production facility there. Internalizing these capabilities gives us greater control over our supply chain and enables us to better prepare for regulatory filings and the launches of future therapies.

Finally, we are modernizing our existing manufacturing network to increase capacity based on the needs of our growing pipeline and business. The improvements we’re making to processes and technology in our facilities in RTP and Hillerød, Denmark are similar to those that will be installed in our new facility in Solothurn and is expected to result in a three-fold increase in product output for our mid-stage pipeline programs.

These combined efforts are intended to enable us to meet the growing needs of our business and provide greater flexibility to respond to changing patient demand. Moreover, we believe our approach reduces risk because it will ultimately enable us to bring future production capacity online rapidly.

One of the unique aspects of biopharmaceutical manufacturing is that we need to plan years ahead of potential launches because of the technical challenges and requirements to build new capacity. As a company, we’re betting on the pipeline products we believe can significantly help patients in the years ahead. Regardless of what the future brings, our commitment will always be to ensure we can supply our therapies to patients whenever and wherever they need them. 

John Cox
Executive Vice President
Pharmaceutical Operations and Technology

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