Catalent inks biosimilar deal with Japanese CMO

Catalent has signed a deal to provide biosimilar cell lines to Japan's UMN Pharma, a development and manufacturing agreement designed to jump-start the CMO's presence on the Asian market.

Neither company disclosed the terms of the agreement, but the deal tasks Catalent with using its GPEx technology to produce high-yielding cell lines, and UMN, in turn, will recruit pharma outfits that want to partner on biosimilar development in Asia.

UMN, along with its manufacturing unit Unigen, is supported by the Japanese government and is expanding its capacity in the region, making it an ideal partner in Asia, Catalent Medication Delivery Solutions President Barry Littlejohns said.

"This agreement will allow Catalent to continue to grow its biologics development and manufacturing interests of multiple biosimilars and [new biological entities], particularly in the Asian market," Littlejohns said in a statement. "UMN Pharma's ambitious expansion plans reflect Catalent's strategy for growth in what we consider to be a key market."

Catalent is in the midst of expanding its biologics capabilities, too. In August, the company revamped its bioreactors to increase speed and efficiency, and it is now planning to open a state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility in Madison, WI, in 2013. And the company is no stranger to Asian dealmaking, teaming up with South Korean CRO CTC Bio in September in an effort to pool capabilities and attract pharma clients in that country's burgeoning industry.

The Unigen deal follows the same spirit, and Catalent's technology, culture and speed will help the Japanese outfit grow its business and client base, Executive Chairman Masahiro Michishita said.

- read Catalent's announcement

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