Despite the unexpected departure of Lonza’s CEO last month, the Swiss Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of dealmaking.
Lonza recently unveiled plans for a manufacturing expansion that is part of an evolving production agreement, set to create nearly 200 new jobs at one of the world’s largest bioconjugation facilities. This expansion is the result of a long-term collaboration between Lonza and a major global biopharmaceutical partner, although the partner’s identity remains undisclosed.
The collaboration aims to significantly increase the production of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) at Lonza’s facility in Visp, Switzerland. ADCs are complex bioconjugates used primarily in cancer treatment, comprising a potent cytotoxic agent, a stable linker, and a targeted monoclonal antibody (mAb). Lonza is a key player in the production of these vital ADCs and seeks to expand its capacity fourfold by adding two new bioconjugation suites in Visp. These suites will occupy 1,500 square meters of highly automated production space, making them one of the largest bioconjugation facilities globally.
To meet the demands of this expansion, Lonza plans to hire around 180 new employees to staff the bioconjugation suites, with operations expected to commence in 2026.
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“The expansion of this strategic collaboration further validates the concept of Ibex® Solutions and demonstrates our dedication to supporting our partners with operational excellence, specialist expertise and flexible business models. The complete end-to-end ADC ecosystem at our Visp site eliminates supply chain complexities and supports all stages necessary for the manufacture of these highly potent therapies.”
– Jean-Christophe Hyvert, President, Biologics, Lonza
This impressive development comes shortly after the departure of Lonza’s CEO, Pierre-Alain Ruffieux, at the end of September. Albert Baehny, Chairman of Lonza, has taken on the role of interim CEO, having previously held this position in 2020. Lonza intends to present its medium-term strategy at a capital markets day in Switzerland later this month.
Despite leadership changes, Lonza has continued to secure significant deals and expand its operations throughout the year. They recently modified their production contract with bluebird bio to increase manufacturing capacity for gene therapies Zynteglo and Skysona.
In June, Lonza partnered with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to support the production of VX-880, an experimental cell therapy, and a second clinical candidate for Type 1 diabetes, VX-264. Additionally, the companies are jointly investing in a new manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which Lonza will operate and which is expected to employ up to 300 staff across 130,000 square feet.
“The expanded relationship with our partner builds upon trust and expertise in delivering manufacturing solutions built upon extensive experience in bringing ADC-based therapies to the clinic and beyond. Our relationship with the customer has been evolving to incorporate all stages of bioconjugate manufacturing. This unique journey is a testament to our dedication, expertise, and production capacity, all helping to advance cancer treatment options.”
– Christian Morello, Vice President, Head of Bioconjugates, Lonza
Finally, at the beginning of 2023, Lonza completed an expansion of its small molecules production facility in Bend, Oregon, which included the renovation of lab space used for early-stage compound development.
Lonza’s resilience and commitment to expanding its capabilities continue to position it as a prominent player in the biopharmaceutical industry.