With flat demand and revenue, contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) Charles River Laboratories looks to Vertex’s approved sickle cell disease therapy for buoyancy.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

February 16, 2024

2 Min Read

The CDMO’s revenue climbed 3.9% year-on-year but fell 7.9% in the fourth quarter from $1.01 billion in 2023 to $1.10 billion in 2022. 

Following the epidemic, CDMOs worldwide are dealing with several headwinds, driven by dried up funds. During its conference call, James Foster, CEO of Charles River, reassured investors “that constrained client spending will persist into 2024, but that demand will stabilize during the year.”

“So, the CDMO business has been a huge headwind for us,” he said. “The back half of last year grew very nicely but had been slower than we thought it would be.” 

However, he cited his firms partnership with Vertex to drive the business going forward. Charles River commercially produces Vertex’s allogeneic cell therapy drug product Casgevy (exagamglogene autotemcel), and Foster said Vertex was obviously their “key clients.” 

Casgevy is an autologous, ex vivo CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited therapy in which a patient’s hematopoietic stem cells are edited to produce high levels of fetal hemoglobin (HbF; hemoglobin F) in red blood cells. 

“I think we have done a really good job as evidenced by the fact that we have had multiple regulatory audits culminating in with Vertex’s new sickle cell drug (SCD), which we are going to be producing a large amount of that,” said Foster. 

In December, our Memphis site received US and EU approval to manufacture casgevy by Vertex, the first gene edited cell therapy targeting severe sickle cell disease. We are very pleased with our relationship with Vertex and believe commercial relationships like this will continue to drive new client inquiries going forward.”

The CDMO’s Memphis, Tennessee center underwent expansion 

in 2022. Additionally, Foster told stakeholders Vertex will drive stability in 2024 and encourage further clients in the cell and gene therapy space.  

“We have other clients who we are talking to right now who are about to file BLAs [biologics license applications] or finishing Phase IIIs. We are generating additional client interest that has undoubtedly been initiated.”

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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