Boehringer eyes Chinese CMO market with biologics plant

Boehringer Ingelheim sees a wealth of opportunity in China's burgeoning pharma scene, and the German drug giant is plotting to open a contract manufacturing facility in Shanghai to cash in on biologics demand.

The company will pour about $46.7 million in the plant alongside local partner ZJ Base, employing up to 65 people when it opens in 2016. The site will provide process development and GMP-compliant manufacturing services with mammalian cell culture technology, Boehringer said, and pairing its pharmaceutical expertise with ZJ Base's local know-how will help the company expand its reach in China.

"The move to invest in biopharmaceuticals is in line with China's overall growth plan for the next 5 years," Boehringer Managing Director Hubertus von Baumbach said in a statement. "Biopharmaceuticals, together with prescription medicines, consumer healthcare, animal health and manufacturing, will form the 5 pillars driving our business in China."

And Zhangjiang, a technology park in Shanghai, is the ideal first stop for the company as it looks to tap the swelling market of China-based drug developers, ZJ Base General Manager Lanzhong Wang said.

"With a number of innovative medicines being developed by a cluster of middle- to small-sized innovative companies in Zhangjiang, plus the government support, we plan to initiate the CMO manufacturing framework at this plant on a trial basis," Wang said in a statement. "This will provide an effective platform for middle and small-sized companies to industrialize their innovations."

Boehringer's CMO expansion comes after the company shuttered its API-producing plant in Petersburg, VA, last year, citing excess capacity in its contract business.

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