WuXi Bio eyes growth amid uncertain geopolitical climate

WuXi Biologics reported robust financials for 2023, citing microbial and advanced modalities as key drivers. However, questions loom as to how the US BIOSECURE Act will affect the future.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

April 10, 2024

3 Min Read

The contract development and manufacturing organization’s (CDMO’s) revenue climbed 11.6% year-on-year to RMB 17 billion ($2.3 billion), while gross profit rose by 1.5% to RMB 6.8 billion ($829 billion).

During its financial call, Chris Chen, CEO of WuXi Biologics, reassured investors of its “unique CDMO business model and the successful implementation of ‘Follow and Win the Molecule’ strategies leading to new opportunities and stable growth in 2023.”

WuXi attributed the 'Follow and Win the Molecule’ strategy to the addition of 132 integrated projects in 2023, with 51 late-phase projects and 24 commercial manufacturing projects buttressing the CDMO’s foundation for continued revenue growth.

“In research, we secured service agreements with GSK and BioNTech, demonstrating the capabilities of our integrated discovery platforms in enabling global partners to develop new modalities. In Development, we facilitated 110 INDs for global clients, and launched new technology platforms such as WuXiUI and WuXiHigh.”

From the manufacturing side, he said “with 24 ongoing projects and an expected rise in commercial projects and potential blockbusters, we anticipate a bright future for growth. To support this accelerated momentum, we have furthered our ‘Global Dual Sourcing’ strategy and increased global capacity with solid free cash flow, laying the groundwork for a comprehensive global biomanufacturing network with major operations in China, the US, Ireland, Germany, and Singapore.”

Additionally, the Shanghai-based CDMO aims to establish integrated platforms for various new modalities. According to the firm, these platforms are emerging as key drivers for future growth. Giving the examples of WuXi’s bispecific antibody platform, WuXiBody, which has garnered 114 projects, and WuXi XDC, WuXi’s antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) spin-off, which secured 143 projects, the CDMO underpinned its strengths in CMC and regulatory capabilities.

The firm also provides microbial fermentation technology using microbial expression systems such as E. coli and yeast in combination with the integrated technology platforms allowing faster, more efficient and cost-effective production across multiple modalities, including enzymes, antibody fragments, recombinant proteins, and virus-like particles (VLP), said the firm.

Geopolitical Struggles: Impact on WuXi Biologics

WuXi Biologics has been caught in a geopolitical crossfire with the introduction of the US BIOSECURE Act in January 2024. The act aims to “ensure foreign adversary biotech companies of US national security concern do not gain access to US taxpayer dollars,” said the bipartisan Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

As reported by Reuters, the bill would prohibit federal agencies from contracting with China's BGI Group, MGI, Complete Genomics, WuXi AppTec, their subsidiaries and other biotechnology companies of concern. It would also stop the government from entering into contracts with companies that use their equipment or services. BGI, MGI, Complete Genomics, and WuXi AppTec have been specifically mentioned in the Act as companies of concern.

Additionally, the US government has alleged Chinese firms of aiding Beijing's military, which has been the etiology of discomfort for WuXi, as its CEO Chris Chen was accused of serving as an adjunct professor at the PLA’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

WuXi Biologics with its global network is a fully integrated CDMO that serves many US-based pharma firms and biotech. During its financial call the firm refrained from commenting on the current environment during its financial call. In March, the firm’s shares plummeted 41%.

The same month, global biopharma lobbying organization Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) forced WuXi AppTec to leave the group due to pressure from the US Congress. Reportedly, the Committee on the Chinese Communist Party is worried that WuXi, which has several facilities in the US, would use genetic data gathered from clinical trials to harm US citizens. WuXi sent a letter to BIO this week saying that it will resign from the organization.

About the Author(s)

Shreeyashi Ojha

Reporter, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering the manufacturing and processing sectors for biopharmaceuticals globally.  

Originally from India, I am a Londoner at heart. I have recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected].

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