AstraZeneca to construct $1.5bn cancer drugs facility in Singapore

  • AstraZeneca said the intended site will begin design and construction this year
  • It will be the FTSE 100 company’s first ever end-to-end ADC production facility 

AstraZeneca plans to build a $1.5billion manufacturing plant in Singapore dedicated to making antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

The pharmaceutical giant said the intended site, which it hopes will emit zero carbon from day one, will begin design and construction later this year and be ‘operationally ready’ by 2029.

FTSE 100-listed AstraZeneca’s first ever end-to-end ADC production facility, which is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, follows strong demand for the drugmaker’s oncology offering. 

New factory: AstraZeneca plans to build a $1.5billion manufacturing plant in Singapore to make antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs)

ADCs are highly-targeted drugs that use antibodies to deliver cancer-killing agents directly to cancer cells while sparing healthy cells and having fewer serious side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

Their development involves producing antibodies, synthesising the chemotherapy drug and its linker, conjugating the drug-linker to the antibody, and filling the completed ADC substance.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive at AstraZeneca, said: ‘Singapore is one of the world’s most attractive countries for investment given its reputation for excellence in complex manufacturing, and I am excited for AstraZeneca to locate our $1.5billion ADC manufacturing facility in the country.’

In April, AstraZeneca reported its first-quarter revenues and profits both surpassed expectations thanks to soaring demand for its oncology drugs, such as lung cancer treatments Tagrisso and Imfinzi.

Its total turnover increased by $1.8billion at constant exchange rates to $12.7billion (£10.2billion), compared to analyst estimates of $11.8billion, while earnings per share rose by 12 per cent to $2.06 per share.

Trading further benefited from sales of type 2 diabetes medicine Farxiga, its most popular-selling drug, jumping by 45 per cent to almost $1.9billion.

As a consequence, the group reiterated its guidance for revenues and core EPS to both rise by a low double-digit to low-teens percentage this year.

Since announcing the result, AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has been withdrawn from worldwide circulation due to concerns that it can lead to a rare and dangerous side effect, which causes blood clots and low blood platelet counts.

Despite the controversy, the vaccine is credited with saving millions of lives during the pandemic, and AstraZeneca said the decision to remove it from the market was commercial.

AstraZeneca shares were 0.2 per cent lower at £120.86 on Monday morning but have risen by around 12 per cent over the past year.