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US drug-maker Amgen opens first biomanufacturing facility in Singapore

Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 15:14
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US DRUG-MAKER Amgen expects to roll out its products by end 2016 at its first next-generation biomanufacturing facility in Singapore, which is also the first in Asia.

US DRUG-MAKER Amgen expects to roll out its products by end 2016 at its first next-generation biomanufacturing facility in Singapore, which is also the first in Asia.

Its new Tuas next-generation biomanufacturing facility was officially launched on Thursday after 15 months of construction, which is half the time taken to build a conventional plant.

Compared with a conventional facility, the S$200 million plant here takes up only a quarter of the capital cost, a third of operating expenses and is based on flexible, modular technologies.

Through the use of these new technologies, the facility will produce about a metric tonne of products annually, same as that of a conventional facility.

And it will do so with more than 75 per cent reductions in the usage of energy and water and in carbon dioxide emissions, as well as less solid waste and chemical usage, in line with Singapore's commitment to sustainable and innovative economic development.

The new 120,000 sq ft plant will produce a drug substance used in the treatment of osteoporosis and bone-related cancer.

The modular design can also be replicated in Amgen's future facilities, enabling higher production and greater accessibility to patients around the world.

So far, the company has employed 70 staff and it plans to grow the number to 200 in about two years' time.

Amgen on Thursday also announced that it is investing in a second synthetic molecule plant to be ready in about three years' time.

The second plant will be in the vicinity of the first and will produce the active pharmaceutical ingredient for a multiple myeloma drug. Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help fight infections.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said Singapore is home to nine world-class commercial-scale biologics manufacturing facilities, including Amgen's.

He said the knowledge- and skill-intensive industry has created more than 6,000 jobs, of which more than 80 per cent are held by locals.

The manufacturing sector contributed close to 20 per cent of the Republic's gross domestic product in 2013, said Mr Lim, who added that the government will make further investments in the coming years to build up research capabilities and drive innovation.

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