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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Novartis’s $90 million factory to help solve cell therapy bottleneck

Health Industry Hub | December 2, 2019 |

Novartis’s new $90 million cell and gene therapy factory is on track to begin commercial production of its cell therapy for cancer in 2020.

The new factory in Switzerland will allow the drugmaker to make its Kymriah CAR-T therapy for European patients without first having to fly their immune cells across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Swiss factory, as well as a separate French site also being expanded, are central to Novartis’s plans to transform Kymriah from a $250 million-per-year seller into a $1 billion blockbuster as global demands rise. Novartis sees cell and gene therapies eventually contributing about 15% of its global revenue.

“We have already started to produce clinical batches at both sites and are on track to begin producing commercial product in 2020.” Novartis said.

Kymriah’s global rollout in 20 countries, plus Novartis’s efforts to expand the therapy’s indications, make adding commercial production a priority, including in China and Japan. Its complex production, tailor-made for each patient, poses logistical challenges compared to off-the-shelf treatments.

Kymriah’s 2019 approval in Australia was hailed as a breakthrough treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The therapy required collecting blood from the patient, sending this off-shore for processing, before it is returned and reinfused into the patient. In August 2019 Cell Therapies Pty Ltd became the first Australian company awarded a commercial CAR-T TGA license to manufacture locally.

“The key factor in bringing local manufacturing to each region is to make Kymriah available as quickly as possible,” Novartis said.

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