What is the opportunity that Samsung saw in the biopharma space that led to the creation of Samsung Biologics and what is your current footprint, 12 years in?
The aging population and the continued growth and income in technology advancements led Samsung to invest in the life sciences industry and, as a result, in 2011 founded Samsung Biologics as a branch within the larger organization. After careful business planning, it was determined that contract manufacturing and contract development were the ideal areas to leverage Samsung's technology skills acquired after 80 years of existence. We started out as a fairly small venture, with about 50 people; today we are close to 5,500 experts.
We have built our facilities in a two to three years’ time span, which is 40% faster than the norm, and currently have four plants with a capacity of over 600,000 liters. This amounts to around 25% to 30% of the total global contract manufacturing capacity. With this capacity, we develop drugs for our clients across major diseases like cancer, immunology, and Covid-19. Our sales are aligned with the global pharma trends so the U.S. takes around 50% of our portfolio, while Europe is at 30% and the rest of the world 20%. The majority of our clients are big pharma companies like Roche, Novartis, GSK or Eli Lilly.
Covid-19 was a time of unprecedented dynamism for the industry - what was expected of you as a CDMO partner?
Historically, CDMOs would transfer products in around six months, but we have been able to half that time, particularly during the pandemic when monoclonal antibody therapies were direly sought after. Besides these, we helped Moderna with packing their vaccine into vials and getting it approved in a five months’ time frame. We employ three major CDO technology platforms to offer. S-CHOice® allows us to produce high cell line yields, S-DUALTM is a bispecific platform and DEVELOPICKTM enables us to identify the most efficient cell line.
Over the last couple of years, many biopharma companies have been showing a growing interest in contract manufacturing to mitigate supply chain risks and focus on streamlined R&D.
The financial environment has been described as a time of the “haves” and the “have nots” in the life sciences space - who do you believe will make it?
We are seeing a very positive momentum as the marketplace continues to grow, with mAb therapies having a double-digit growth thanks to tech advancements and wealth increases across the globe. From this perspective, the drugs that are more interventional and that help patients live longer are going to take off spectacularly in the following years. The biologics market will probably topple the small molecules one, but the whole evolution is closely linked to the popularization of new technologies. Even though the general markets will possibly go into recession, medicines are an essential asset.
How are you adapting your business to integrate new technologies, personalized therapies and the rise of ESG awareness in the biopharma space?
The relationship between technology and life sciences translates into the industry trying to refine and improve the effectiveness of drug development - from discovery to launch. It is true that mRNA vaccines were developed in record time, but clinical trials are still taking up to ten years to be completed. AI might prove to be the answer to streamline those timelines. Personalized medicine has been in the spotlight for quite some time, with antibodies being considered personal medicine options. But the shift towards completely individualized therapies will take time. Rather, we now have large categories of products with smaller sub-categories that can be considered personalized options, such as CAR-T cell therapies and gene therapies in rare diseases.
Besides adopting new technologies, the pharma industry is also responsible to incorporate ESG measures into its processes.
4% to 5% of the total global carbon output results from the healthcare industry, so in order to address this subject we are actively engaged in the SMI - Sustainable Markets Initiative. Driven by King Charles III and led by CEOs and executives from various companies and national agencies (WHO, NHS, etc.), this program aims to set global standards and to create public and private partnerships.
What are the main objectives for Samsung Biologics in the coming years?
We are planning to grow across three distinct dimensions. First of all, we will continue to expand our capacity via our Bio Campus II through 7.5 trillion Korean won capital investment that will help us build four additional facilities. Secondly, we intend to further grow our portfolio through more diversified modalities such as an antibody-drug conjugates program that will hopefully be up and running by 2024. Thirdly, we are interested in increasing our geographical footprint beyond our R&D center in South San Francisco with a sales office in New Jersey and Boston.
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