AstraZeneca to build US$1.5 billion cancer drug manufacturing plant in Singapore

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AstraZeneca plans to build a US$1.5 billion manufacturing facility in Singapore to produce antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and targeted cancer therapies, the British company said on Monday (May 20).

The facility, which will be the drugmaker’s first end-to-end ADC production site, will be supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). The company did not provide details on the possible financial incentives from the Singapore government.

“Singapore is one of the world’s most attractive countries for investment given its reputation for excellence in complex manufacturing, and I am excited for AstraZeneca to locate our $1.5 billion ADC manufacturing facility in the country,” CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement.

London-listed AstraZeneca has been expanding into markets like China, Indonesia and India over the past few years in an effort to widen its supply chain. Its breast cancer therapy Enhertu is made by its partner Daiichi Sankyo in Japan.

ADCs are engineered antibodies that bind to tumour cells and then release cell-killing chemicals.

The multi-stage production of ADCs involves generating the antibody, synthesising the chemotherapy drug and its linker, conjugating these elements, and filling of the completed ADC substance.

AstraZeneca has a wide portfolio of in-house ADCs, which includes six wholly owned ADCs in clinic and more in pre-clinical development.

EDB chairman Png Cheong Boon welcomed AstraZeneca’s plans, saying it supported Singapore’s development and manufacturing of precision medicines, and helped create jobs and economic opportunities.

The biomedical sciences industry, which comprises the biopharmaceutical and medical technology sectors, is a key contributor to Singapore’s economy, said EDB.

In 2022, the industry accounted for 2.3 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product and manufactured close to S$39 billion worth of products for the global market.

Building of the AstraZeneca facility – the company’s first manufacturing investment in Singapore – will begin by the end of 2024 and it should be operational from 2029, the company said, adding it will have zero carbon emissions from its first day of operations.

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