MedImmune’s Agreement to Produce Merck’s Biosimilars Exemplifies Shifting Biotech Manufacturing Sands

MedImmune’s long-term, “trusted partner” agreement with Merck to produce Merck’s biosimilars exemplifies the shifting sands of biotech production capability and need and the different relationships that are being explored to handle that flux.

The 15-year contract signed last September calls for each firm using the other’s facilities in production areas where there is a capacity shortfall on the one side and an excess capacity on the other.

While Merck will be taking advantage of extra biotech manufacturing capacity at MedImmune in expanding into biosimilars, MedImmune will use excess microbial and fill/finish capacity at Merck for its needs in those areas.  MedImmune has already been producing monoclonal antibody-based clinical trial material for Merck under the agreement.

At an ISPE conference in Tampa, Florida, in February, MedImmune Capacity Utilization VP Darren Dasburg explained that a “trusted partner” relationship includes “the full benefits of reciprocity” and produces “significant savings in both directions.” Dasburg was VP of North American Engineering at GlaxoSmithKline prior to joining MedImmune in 2010.

In his presentation, the MedImmune VP detailed his firm’s agreement with Merck, including : ● why it was formed ● how it differs from other industry agreements ● implications for the manufacturing facilities involved, and ● how both firms are already benefiting from the arrangement.

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