Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 17, 2022

CDMO Samsung Biologics Plans Expansion in the U.S. and Europe Following Productive 2021

As one of the world’s largest contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMO), Samsung Biologics has played a key role in building a biopharma hub in South Korea. Now, following significant revenue growth and portfolio diversification efforts in 2021, the company plans to expand its global footprint.

While no location for the new facilities has been announced, Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim made the CDMO’s intentions clear in a recent interview with FiercePharma.

“It’s more when, not if,” said Rim. “We’re continuing to look at when is the opportune time to make an investment in the United States and make an investment in Europe as well.”

A Core Pillar

At Samsung Biologics’ 11th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, held in March 2022, Rim outlined the CDMO’s “multidimensional growth plan,” which includes three core pillars: expanding manufacturing capacity, diversifying the company’s portfolio, and increasing its global footprint.

In a letter to shareholders, Rim noted Samsung Biologics has already begun to make progress in the core pillar of global growth, opening a research and development center in San Francisco, California, in 2020. Rim explained that the CDMO will expand this effort in 2022.

“Samsung Biologics expanded its first global footprint with the opening of a CDO [Contract Development Organization] R&D center in the heart of the San Francisco biotech cluster in 2020. We are actively reviewing further geographical expansion plans in other regions in the U.S., Europe, and beyond to expand our business footprint. We aim to provide agile and reliable services to our clients by enhancing our global presence in major biotech hubs,” said Rim.

Securing the CDMO Supply Chain

In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Rim explained the company is focusing on international growth to meet a surge in demand for Samsung Biologics’ CDMO services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This surge in demand has come as the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the global supply chain and the need for proactive, robust supply chain strategies.

“The COVID situation has highlighted more of the need to diversify and risk-manage, particularly around supply chain management. It has also highlighted the need for doing things quick,” said Rim.

With additional facilities, Samsung Biologics would position itself to provide its customers with CDMO services while avoiding shipping delays and other supply chain issues that can arise with overseas shipments.

Building on a Productive 2021

Samsung Biologics’ plans for global expansion come on the heels of a productive year. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented demand for mRNA vaccine production, and Samsung Biologics utilized its substantial manufacturing capacity to produce Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The CDMO performed fill/finish services for Moderna’s mRNA vaccine at its facilities in Songdo, South Korea.

Partnerships to produce monoclonal antibodies for Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline’s COVID-19 treatments also helped fuel Samsung Biologics’ recent growth. Its role as a leading contract manufacturer of both mRNA vaccines and monoclonal antibodies during the pandemic propelled the CDMO to a 35% increase in revenue in 2021, and its backlogs rose 25%, reaching $7.5 billion.

With this influx of revenue, Samsung Biologics is well positioned to pursue expansion as it diversifies its portfolio. In January 2022, Samsung Biologics announced its full acquisition of Samsung Bioepis, a biosimilars joint venture the CDMO had been operating in partnership with Biogen since 2012.  

What’s Next for Samsung Biologics?

Samsung Biologics’ plans to increase its global footprint are not its only expansion plans for 2022. In addition to pursuing the development of overseas facilities, the CDMO is constructing several new facilities in Songdo, including its Plant 4 “Super Plant,” which will provide an industry-leading manufacturing capacity of 256,000 liters upon its completion.

“Plant 4 is expected to start partial operations in Q4 this year and be fully operational by mid-2023, six months ahead of the original plan. We have already secured CMO contracts for five different products with three global companies for Plant 4 as a result of steady presales activities,” said Rim in his letter to shareholders.

Samsung Biologics’ expansion plans, both in South Korea and overseas, signal the CDMO’s commitment to continuing to invest in growth. As Rim explained at the shareholders’ meeting, the goal of this growth is to benefit patients.

 "As a leading CDMO service provider, we will continue to demonstrate our excellent business operations throughout our value chains to ultimately contribute to saving the lives of patients and build a better future for all,” he said.

And more patients are relying on biologic medicines. According to a report by Evaluate Pharma, sales of biologics exceeded $4 trillion in 2021 and are forecast to reach $5 trillion by 2026. As Samsung Biologics continues to pursue expansion and construct new facilities, the company is positioning itself as an international leader in this growing market.

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