AbbVie invests $223m in Singapore biologics site

AbbVie Singapore expansion

AbbVie has broken ground on a new $223 million expansion of its biologics manufacturing facility in Singapore, creating around 100 new jobs. 

The new investment will grow its workforce at the site to 500 workers in manufacturing, quality assurance, supply chain, engineering and administration roles.

Construction of the new plant at Singapore’s Tuas Biomedical Park is now underway and, when completed, will add 24,000 litres of biologics drug-substance capacity to AbbVie’s global manufacturing network.

It is scheduled to come online in 2026, according to the company, which, with the new investment, has spent more than $740 million on its Singapore site over the last 10 years. It is AbbVie’s only manufacturing location in Asia.

“The expansion of our Singapore site will strengthen our global manufacturing capabilities, support our growing biologics pipeline, and help AbbVie continue delivering on our patient commitments now and in the future,” commented the group’s chief operations officer, Azita Saleki-Gerhardt.

AbbVie is facing a major challenge to its business in the coming years with the loss of patent protection for immunology behemoth Humira (adalimumab), which saw sales plunge by a third to $11.1 billion in the first nine months of 2023.

The company has been working hard to build up its R&D pipeline to plug the gap in its revenues caused by biosimilar competition to Humira and needs additional manufacturing capacity for its expanded pipeline.

Just in the last few weeks, AbbVie has agreed a $10.1 billion deal to buy ImmunoGen and its antibody-drug conjugate Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine) for ovarian cancer, an $8.7 billion takeover of Cerevel Therapeutics, which develops central nervous system drugs headed by schizophrenia candidate emraclidine, and a $1.44 billion licensing deal with in vivo cell therapy specialist Umoja.

Singapore is a hot spot of manufacturing for the biopharma and medical device industry, with more than 80 facilities employing upwards of 24,000 workers that generated export revenues of more than $14 billion in 2022, according to the city state’s Economic Development Board (EDB).

It is also an increasingly popular location for R&D thanks to a growing number of biotech start-ups, witnessed by Johnson & Johnson’s decision to set up one of JLABS incubators in Singapore last year to tap into local talent.

Tuas Biomedical Park is home to 14 companies employing around 7,000 employees, with Amgen, GSK, Pfizer, Sanofi, MSD, Novartis, and Roche among AbbVie’s neighbours.

“We are grateful for AbbVie’s continued trust in the strength of Singapore’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities and talent base,” said EDB executive vice president Cindy Koh at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility.