business agreement handshakeSanofi and Lonza have announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership to build and operate a large-scale mammalian cell culture facility for monoclonal antibody production in Visp, Switzerland.

The strategic partnership in the form of a joint venture combines the strong biologics development pipeline of Sanofi with the expertise of Lonza to design, construct, start-up and operate a state-of-the-art large-scale mammalian cell culture facility. The initial investment will be around CHF 290 million (€270 million), to be split equally between each company. 

The initial phase of the facility will commence construction in 2017, pending necessary regulatory approvals, and is expected to be fully operational by 2020. Lonza has previously built and licensed three similar facilities in the US and Singapore. 

“In addition to the investments we are making in building our own internal production capabilities, the joint venture between Sanofi and Lonza emphasises our commitment to provide access for patients to high quality therapeutic monoclonal antibodies,” said Philippe Luscan, Executive Vice President, Global Industrial Affairs, Sanofi. 

“Approximately 60% of our pipeline is made up of biologics, including monoclonal antibodies, dedicated to key disease areas such as cardiovascular, immunology and inflammation, neurology and oncology. Lonza is a highly experienced partner in this field and the capabilities which this joint venture will create are critical to meeting our patients’ needs for these important therapies.”

“By entering into this long-term strategic relationship we have developed a tailor-made business model that best fits both Sanofi’s and Lonza’s requirements. It provides to Sanofi dedicated capacity, which allows for a clear win-win situation for all participants,” said Marc Funk, COO Pharma & Biotech, Lonza.

“As part of our strategic roadmap, we will develop further innovative business models based on the requirements of our customers. We intend to address these long-term market needs by establishing a state-of-the-art strategic biologics manufacturing platform. The strategic partnership with Sanofi represents the first module in this undertaking — and we are convinced that with this future-oriented approach, we can serve additional customers.” 

The partnership provides both Sanofi and Lonza with substantial flexibility in an innovative set-up:

  • each party will share the available capacity in line with their equity shareholding in the joint venture
  • Sanofi will have additional access to biomanufacturing capacity to support increasing demands for their portfolio of biologic therapeutic products, should they require it
  • Lonza will be free to market their share of capacity, if not required by Sanofi, and will also market unused Sanofi capacity, where available
  • Lonza will construct the facility and will support the joint venture in its operation of the facility. 

The strategic partnership enables Sanofi to react quickly to fluctuations in demand in a short timeframe, reinforcing their capability to launch high-quality, next generation biologic medicines and ensure consistent access for patients.

It also provides Lonza with needed capacities to respond to growing manufacturing demands for large-scale mammalian cell culture based therapeutic proteins, therefore allowing Lonza to better serve its customers. By adding flexibility in this way, this model will help to optimise biologics production capacity across the whole industry.