SOUTH KOREA — Samsung Biologics, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), has signed a biologics supply contract with pharma giant Pfizer worth KRW 241 billion (US$183 million) and it runs through 2029.

This makes Pfizer the seventh top 10 pharma firm to collaborate with the Korean CDMO, joining other clients such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Moderna, CytoDyn, and UCB.

Samsung Biologics has been expanding its capabilities and facilities to meet demand, with plans to enter the manufacture of antibody-drug conjugates in the near future.

Samsung Biologics, through its joint venture with Biogen Idec to form Samsung Bioepis (now fully owned by Samsung Biologics), has been producing biosimilars marketed in some regions by Merck & Co.

According to data from market research firm Globaldata, Samsung Biologics has already signed CDMO contracts with seven out of the top 10 multinational pharmaceutical companies based on total sales in 2021, indicating an aggressive expansion strategy.

These pharma firms include Bristol-Myers Squibb (expanded in 2014 and 2019), Roche (expanded in 2019), GlaxoSmithKline (expanded through a US$296 million 10-year deal), AstraZeneca (expanded to be worth US$380 million), and Novartis (US$81 million).

The recent Pfizer contract marks the second CMO agreement signed by Samsung Biologics this year. In addition, the company signed a US$27 million CDMO agreement with GSK in February.

With the GSK contract, Samsung Biologics has already secured CMO contracts totaling US$209 million in the first quarter of this year.

Concurrent with the addition of large pharma clients, Samsung Biologics has been aggressively building up its drug substance and drug product capabilities to meet the growing demand.

The firm’s first three facilities at its site in Songdo, Korea boast a total of 364,000 L mostly stainless-steel bioreactor capacity, while a fourth ‘super plant’ first announced in 2020 will house an additional 256,000 liters of mammalian production capacity.

The first phase of the plant began operations in October last year, unlocking 60,000 L of extra capacity.

A fifth facility is in the works, and an area of 350,000 square meters in Songdo acquired last year is set to become a second biocampus for the CDMO, highlighting the company’s aggressive expansion.

Samsung Biologics is aiming high for its future expansion plans. At the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference held two months ago, Samsung CEO John Rim disclosed that the company’s next significant expansion would be in the production of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

The manufacture of ADCs is expected to be operational at Samsung’s expansive facility in Incheon by next year.

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