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2024-05-23| Asia-Pacific

AstraZeneca’s $1.5 Billion ADC Manufacturing Facility in Singapore

by Bernice Lottering
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AstraZeneca is set to invest $1.5 billion in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Singapore dedicated to antibody drug conjugates (ADCs). This facility, which will be operational by 2029, represents AstraZeneca’s first comprehensive production site for ADCs, enhancing its global supply chain for these advanced cancer treatments.

AstraZeneca’s First End-to-End ADC Manufacturing Plant in Asia

With the success of its Daiichi Sankyo collaboration on Enhertu and anticipation for approval of its next ADC, datopotamab deruxtecan (Dato-DXd), later this year, AstraZeneca is heavily investing in cancer-fighting technology with a significant manufacturing venture in Asia.

The pharma giant announced on Monday its intention to construct a $1.5 billion ADC manufacturing plant in Singapore. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), this greenfield facility will be AstraZeneca’s first site to fully integrate all stages of ADC production on a commercial scale, according to a company statement. ADCs comprise an antibody linked to a chemotherapy payload through a chemical linker. The antibody selectively targets cancer cells, facilitating the release of the cytotoxic payload specifically within these cells. The new facility will encompass all stages of the ADC manufacturing process at a commercial scale, covering antibody production, synthesis of the chemotherapy drug and linker, drug-linker conjugation, and final ADC substance filling.

This marks AstraZeneca’s first manufacturing venture in Singapore, highlighted by Png Cheong Boon, chairman of the country’s EDB. Boon emphasized the investment’s confidence in Singapore’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities and its potential for significant economic and job growth.

A Leader in Cancer Treatment, AZ Focuses on Sustainability

In recent years, AstraZeneca, listed in London, has been broadening its market presence in countries such as China, Indonesia, and India to diversify its supply chain. Enhertu, its breast cancer therapy, is manufactured in Japan through its partnership with Daiichi Sankyo. AstraZeneca’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, emphasized the company’s leadership in cancer treatments, particularly ADCs, which are poised to revolutionize chemotherapy. He praised Singapore as an ideal investment destination due to its excellence in complex manufacturing. The new facility is a strategic move to bolster AstraZeneca’s robust portfolio of in-house ADCs, which includes six wholly owned ADCs currently in clinical trials and several more in preclinical development stages.

“AstraZeneca has built an industry-leading portfolio of cancer medicines including antibody drug conjugates which have shown enormous potential to replace traditional chemotherapy for patients across many settings. Singapore is one of the world’s most attractive countries for investment given its reputation for excellence in complex manufacturing, and I am excited for AstraZeneca to locate our $1.5 billion ADC manufacturing facility in the country.”

Aligned with its sustainability goals, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker plans to collaborate with the Singapore government and other partners to ensure the facility operates with zero carbon emissions from its first day. The design and construction phase is expected to commence by the end of 2024, aiming for operational readiness by 2029.

APAC is an ADC Manufacturing Market Hotspot for Big Pharma

Paul Tomasic, managing director and head of European healthcare at investment bank Houlihan Lokey, noted in a client update on Monday that AstraZeneca’s interest and investment in ADCs appears well-founded. He highlighted the projected growth rate of over 15% per year in the specialized cancer treatment market, valued at $10 billion. According to Tomasic, “This move reflects the industry’s recognition of the complexities and costs associated with developing and manufacturing ADCs, which necessitates substantial investment in infrastructure to ensure quality and efficiency in production.”

AstraZeneca is entering the manufacturing arena amidst growing competition in the ADC market, noted Tomasic. Despite recent multibillion-dollar deals by AbbVie and Pfizer—acquiring ImmunoGen and Seagen, respectively—AstraZeneca remains a frontrunner in ADCs. The Singapore site further solidifies its position in this competitive landscape. Their current ADC, Enhertu, developed with Daiichi Sankyo, has seen impressive sales of $879 million for the first three months of 2024, particularly in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Recent FDA approval for broader tumor types is expected to expand its reach to thousands more patients. Further, AZ and Daiichi Sankyo have additional commercial plans in the ADC arena beyond Enhertu. Their TROP2-directed ADC, Dato-DXd, has recently been accepted for FDA filing in non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Daiichi anticipates the FDA decision on its approval by December 20.

In the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, Singapore has become a highly desirable location for pharmaceutical companies in recent years. In January, AbbVie announced the commencement of a $223 million expansion of its manufacturing facility in the country to enhance global biologics capacity. Following suit, in March, Novartis initiated a $256 million expansion in Singapore, primarily focused on manufacturing antibody drugs. Prior to these developments, Merck and Sanofi both embarked on significant projects in the country in 2022. astrazeneca vaccine, astrazeneca stock, astrazeneca covid vaccine, astrazeneca careers, astrazeneca vaccine recall, astrazeneca vaccine, astrazeneca stock, astrazeneca covid vaccine, astrazeneca careers, astrazeneca vaccine recall,

References: 

Tomasic, P. Commenting on AstraZeneca Building a $1.5bn Manufacturing Site in Singapore. Email Distributed by Dynevor, S. Houlihan Lokey, May 20, 2024.

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