In this interview, Anton Gerdenitsch, the global head of contract manufacturing at Novartis, who manages the contract development and manufacturing organization of Novartis under the name Global Biotech Cooperations, discusses the increasing demand for CDMO's in various platforms and the ways in which Novartis has strategically utilized their global network, capacity, technologies to bring quality products to patients.
With the rapid increase of emerging technologies in biotech manufacturing for viral vectors, DNA, RNA, and other gene therapies, many companies are challenged to deliver capacity, quality, and speed. Operating this CDMO within a rock solid, stable, and very experienced pharmaceutical company like Novartis provides several advantages. These include a global network of facilities for sustainable supply chain, support for various scientific technologies from small to large scale drug substance, and the financial stability to offer long-term strategic partnerships with customers.
Novartis’ plan is to continue expanding their global footprint and help even more innovative companies to bring their medications to patients.
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Julia Douthart: Anton Gerdenitsch or Toni is the global head of contract manufacturing at Novartis, managing the contract development and manufacturing organization of Novartis under the name Global Biotech Cooperations. He has more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceuticals with a focus on biologics manufacturing and business development. He also serves as CEO of Novartis, Austria, managing the largest Biotech-Campus of Novartis, located in the lovely region of Tyrol in the western part of Austria. Toni, thank you for speaking with us today.
Anton Gerdenitsch: Thank you, Julia. Thanks for being here.
Julia Douthart: To get us started, can you tell us a little bit about what prompted Novartis to form Global Biotech Cooperations? And can you tell us about the founding of the contract manufacturing organization?
Anton Gerdenitsch: Global Biotech Corporation is the name of the Novartis CDMO unit. We founded roughly two years ago. Why did we do this? Novartis has been doing actually contract manufacturing for specific technologies already for many, many years. We have a track record here of approximately 30 years, and in that time, we could build up a very solid customer base for very specific technologies. And during that time, we also build up a very unique global development and manufacturing network by adding over the years more and more technologies in more and more regions of the world. And based on that, our driver to form now this dedicated Novartis contract manufacturing unit, approximately two years ago, was we want to act even more strategically and to provide external companies better access to our fast-growing network. So now we are one unit within Novartis supporting all our external customers.
Julia Douthart: So how has the market developed since, say, in the past two to three years of progress of GBTC?
Anton Gerdenitsch: The past two or three years, I have to say, we, we received an increasing number of requests of even more specific and newer and also more complex technologies like, for example, cell and gene therapy, manufacturing of viral vectors, manufacturing of DNA RNA bispecific antibodies to name only a few. And these emerging technologies, I have to say, are really a challenge for many companies. Those companies are struggling to get the required capacity, the quality they need and also the speed they need to get the products on the markets. And here we as Novartis with our global network, we really could help, we could support them and bring really even more of their medications to patients. So overall, we have increased our presence around the globe. We entered into many partnerships in even more technologies. And for me, from more details, please check out our website to learn more. https://www.novartis.com/about/manufacturing/global-biotech-cooperations
Julia Douthart: So, what's next for the organization?
Anton Gerdenitsch: We are really living at the moment, in very exciting times. Biotech and cell and gene space has seen a rapid development over the last few years. More and more technologies have been evolving and more and more products have been reaching the market. And this momentum will continue and we are preparing for that. We are investing currently in new technologies. Two years ago, we opened a new DNA facility in Austria last year, an mRNA manufacturing facility. And next year we'll see the opening of our new viral vector facility in Slovenia. In addition, we are also further expanding existing technologies focuses at the moment, for example, on expanding our large scale mammalian drug substance manufacturing in Europe, but also in Asia. So overall, our plan is to further expand our global footprint and help even more innovative companies to bring their medications to patients.
Julia Douthart: So, Toni, what makes Novartis CDMO different from the rest?
Anton Gerdenitsch: Novartis is, as you know, a large and very successful pharmaceutical company. So, we operate our CDMO business within a rock solid, stable, and very experienced pharmaceutical companies. In addition to that, for me, the, the key benefits of Novartis as a large CDMO organization is number one, clearly we can deliver high quality medications out of a really global network. We have facilities all over the globe and bringing medications to patients is simply our day-to-day business. Number two is we can definitely offer many different technologies really end to end from large scale, small scale drug substance, drug product. Really the whole chain. Number three, I would say one of the big benefits is definitely our financial stability and the, the lot of capacities we have in many sites globally. So, we can really offer long-term corporations and also strategic partnerships with customers. And number four, I have to say, we can offer a stable and sustainable global supply chain as we have really a longstanding relationship with a network of suppliers. In my opinion, these, these benefits really put us at the competitive edge. So to sum up, I have to say, we are big, we are experienced, we are rock solid, we are worldwide, we are end-to-end. We are reliable and have really a deep and rich technology network.
Julia Douthart: Excellent. Thank you so much, Toni. Thank you for joining us today.