Amgen opens next generation facility in Tuas

American pharmaceutical giant Amgen officially opened a $200 million biomanufacturing facility in Tuas yesterday.

The 120,000 sq ft plant, the company’s first manufacturing site in Asia, will produce a drug substance used to treat osteoporosis and bone-related disorders in cancer patients.

Amgen plans to start building a second facility next door by the middle of next year. This plant will make an ingredient for a drug that treats multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells.

Amgen has hired more than 70 local employees for its new plant, with plans to increase the headcount to 200 in the coming years. The company previously did not have a presence here.

The plant, which was constructed in just 15 months, is about 75 per cent smaller than a conventional biologics facility but, even so, it can manufacture the same quantity of product – about a tonne a year.

The processes at the plant are more cost-effective, too: The cost per gram of the product is about a third that achieved at Amgen’s facilities elsewhere, said its executive vice-president of operations, Mr Madhu Balachandran.

Amgen chairman and chief executive Robert Bradway said yesterday: “We hope to apply this next-generation plant manufacturing model around the world.”

Singapore is now home to nine commercial-scale biologics manufacturing facilities.

The sector has created more than 6,000 jobs, around 80 per cent of which are held by locals, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang at yesterday’s opening ceremony.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) is working closely with industry players to develop a pipeline of biologics talent here, he added.

The lack of regulatory talent and market fragmentation in Asia present a “significant challenge” to pharmaceutical companies in terms of product development and market access.

Mr Lim said the Government is working to address this issue – for example, by setting up the Centre of Regulatory Excellence, which aims to provide thought leadership in developing regulatory policy and promoting regulatory innovation while sharing industry best practices.

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