labels: Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals
Novartis announces strategic partnership with Lonza to boost biologics pipeline news
11 July 2008

After having unveiled plans to acquire biotech researcher Speedel (See: Novartis to buy Swiss biotech company Speedel for $880 million), Novartis today said it had entered in to a unique and flexible long-term partnership with biotech leader Lonza, for the joint development and manufacture of the Novartis biological pipeline.

Novartis has been targetting biotechnology as agroeth area like other European drugmakers who have been buying out smaller biotechnology firms in order to secure their profitability, improve their pipelines of drugs under development or testing and fight back competition from generic drugmakers when their patents expire.

Thwe Swiss drug maker says extensive research and development (R&D) over the past few years has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of biological compounds in its list that currently account for about a quarter of the Novartis development portfolio. The Novartis Biologics unit aims to further expand the biological pipeline.

"For Lonza, it represents a change in approach from a typical CMO deal," said Dr. Stephan Kutzer, head of Lonza Biopharmaceuticals. "It focuses on a real collaborative approach to development and manufacturing asset planning to ensure our customers can bring their pipeline of products to the market in an efficient and timely manner'', ''We believe this is the beginning of a long partnership that will bring significant benefits to both parties.''

Lonza will contribute its biotech leadership knowledge in process development and the manufacturing of complex processes to the collaboration. In combination with the strong Novartis research and development pipeline, the agreement generates significant benefits for both parties.

The collaboration will involve Lonza in the development, scale-up and manufacturing of Novartis biological pipeline. Lonza will provide development services from its R&D center in Slough, UK, using Lonza's GS Gene Expression System, and large scale manufacturing capacity from its operations in the US, Spain and Singapore.

The strong Novartis R&D capabilities, coupled with Lonza's leadership in process development and manufacturing, offer an ideal platform for rapid development and production of innovative biological medicines. This may include monoclonal antibodies for treating patients with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, asthma and spinal cord injury.

This strategic partnership represents an extension of Lonza's contract manufacturing business model, expanding from a product by product development and manufacturing arrangement towards the joint development of a pipeline of products with its customers. Novartis has a pipeline of pharmaceutical products in numerous therapeutic areas. The collaboration will fulfill their need for additional resources in technical development. It will also provide Novartis with extra manufacturing capacity, to be utilized in a flexible way.

"The strategic partnership provides a win-win for both companies," said Mark Levick, global head of Novartis Biologics. "It gives Novartis access to the most advanced technology and processes available to develop new biological medicines faster for the benefit of patients. At the same time, it allows Novartis to delay investments into manufacturing."

Under the partnership with Lonza, each project will have a specific development agreement. Following successful development of a compound, Novartis can choose to transfer the commercial manufacturing in-house. In the short-term, the agreement will fulfil the need for additional resources in technical development. It will also provide Novartis with extra manufacturing capacity, to be utilized in a flexible way.

Novartis currently has six biopharmaceutical production plants, in Europe and the US, and is planning to expand its in-house manufacturing capabilities with a new site in Singapore.

Headquartered in Basel, Lonza is the global leader in the production and supply of active chemical and biological ingredients to the pharmaceutical, healthcare and life science industries. Its products and services span its customers' needs from research to final product manufacturing.


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Novartis announces strategic partnership with Lonza to boost biologics pipeline