AstraZeneca to build $1.5bn ADC site in Singapore

AstraZeneca has laid out plans to construct its first fully dedicated antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) manufacturing facility in Singapore.

Millie Nelson, Editor

May 20, 2024

2 Min Read

The buildout of its $1.5 billion facility will establish the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s first manufacturing presence in Singapore. Additionally, it will be AstraZeneca’s first ADC plant to produce the drug from start to finish.

The company described the manufacturing method as a “multi-step process” that consists of antibody production, synthesis of chemotherapy drug and linker, conjugation of drug-linker to the antibody, and fill/finish of the finished ADC substance.

“AstraZeneca has built an industry-leading portfolio of cancer medicines including ADCs which have shown enormous potential to replace traditional chemotherapy for patients across many settings. Singapore is one of the world’s most attractive countries for investment given its reputation for excellence in complex manufacturing, and I am excited for AstraZeneca to locate our $1.5 billion ADC manufacturing facility in the country,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca already has a portfolio of in-house ADCs, which includes six wholly owned ADCs in clinical and “many more” in preclinical development. In March 2019, the firm partnered with Daiichi Sankyo to co-develop HER-2 targeted ADC therapy Enhertu (trastuzumab), which made over $2.5 billion in sales last year.

“This move reflects the industry's recognition of the complexities and costs associated with developing and manufacturing ADCs, which necessitates substantial investment in infrastructure to ensure quality and efficiency in production,” Paul Tomasic, managing director and head of European healthcare at Houlihan Lokey, told us.

“The construction of this facility also highlights a broader trend within the pharmaceutical industry, where strategic initiatives are being directed towards high-growth market segments. ADCs, for instance, represent a significant opportunity with an estimated market size of $10 billion, growing at a rate exceeding 15% annually, driven largely by their promising applications in oncology. By investing in dedicated facilities, companies are positioning themselves to capitalize on this rapid growth and technological advancement.”

The firm said it aims to design and begin construction of the “cancer-killing” drug plant by the end of this year, with the expectation of it being fully operational by 2029. The project is being supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EBD), though no specific potential financial incentives were disclosed.

The company has been expanding its presence in different geographical markets over recent years. In December 2023, the firm announced its plans to build a major R&D center in Hong Kong that would be devoted to developing cell and gene therapy drugs (CGT) for global use. Two months later, AstraZeneca invested $300 million in an 84,000 square-foot CGT facility in Maryland, US. In March, the company said it will locate its fifth global strategic center in in Shanghai, China.  

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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