Genentech to set up new facility in Singapore

Mumbai: Genentech Inc, the world's second-biggest biotechnology company, will invest $140 million on a new manufacturing facility in Singapore. This will take its planned investments in Singapore to $500 million

The new plant will produce E. coli-derived products, including Lucentis, which is used to treat a form of blindness, the Economic Development Board said in a statement.

Construction of the new Genentech plant, Singapore's fourth such biologics facility, will begin in the second quarter of 2007, with production expected to start in early 2010. The plant will employ about 100 people.

Singapore is base for several of the world's biggest drug makers, including Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. It has invested heavily in biotech start-ups, new facilities, labs and foreign researchers to create new sources of economic growth.

Singapore wants to grow itself as a manufacturing base for biologics - drugs made from living sources such as animals and microorganisms.

Genentech will join two other firms, GlaxoSmithKline and Lonza, which are already building such facilities there.

"Singapore is a great location for business and for manufacturing because it has a great, very skillful workforce, a great community, safe and vibrant community, excellent infrastructure, and a very supportive environment for business. In addition, Singapore also has transparent, predictable and very reliable regulatory processes," Patrick Yang, executive vice president, Genentech, said.

Genentech, based in San Francisco, US, owns the cancer drug Avastin.

Under a deal announced last year, Avastin will be produced by the Swiss chemicals firm Lonza in its new plant in Tuas - which will be ready in 2009.

Genentech has an exclusive option to buy a plant in Singapore belonging to Swiss specialty chemicals firm Lonza. The plant will produce cancer drugs.