CMC Puts Down US Roots
Acquisition of ICOS Biologics Operation Gives CMC a U.S. Footprint
By Joanna Cosgrove
CMC Biopharmaceuticals A/S, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based provider of contract biomanufacturing services, has acquired the biologics development and manufacturing operation that Eli Lilly and Company gained when it purchased ICOS Corporation in January 2007. The operation, which will be known as CMC ICOS Biologics Inc., is located in Bothell, WA, and is responsible for developing and manufacturing therapeutic proteins for early clinical trials. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Dr. Diana Morgan, CMC's chief business officer explained that the acquisition was a good fit for a variety of reasons. "The technical capabilities and the capacity of the ICOS facility were determined to be an excellent addition to the existing Copenhagen facility," she said. "The level of expertise in both facilities is world-class and, equally important; the working culture was also identified to be a good match. In addition, ICOS has an existing portfolio of global clients that complements that of CPC, broadening our client base. The location is very convenient for customers on the west coast of the US, and there is a direct flight between Copenhagen and Seattle, simplifying staff movements."
Most importantly, the new facility officially expands the Danish company's operations into the U.S. "CMC already has U.S. clients, who come to us because we offer the highest standards of contract manufacturing, in terms of process science, manufacturing excellence, and regulatory know-how," noted Dr. Morgan. "We wanted to bring this expertise closer to our U.S. clients, as well as expanding our business in what is still the biggest market for biologics production."
Dr. Morgan said CMC looked at several other US options, but were particularly impressed by the staff at Bothell facility. "We feel strongly that the skills inherent in the employees that work at the ICOS facility will complement the abilities of our expert workforce in Europe," she said, noting that CMC plans to invest investment "significantly" in the facility in early 2008 to enable production of late stage clinical trial materials and commercial biopharmaceuticals. Future investment plans will create a second mammalian production line with a 6,000 liter capacity. Dr. Morgan said she expects the workforce to increase significantly in the longer term, potentially to double the current number of 127 employees by 2010.
Additionally, the increased capacity across two facilities allows CMC to offer more flexibility to customers. "Customers in both Europe and the US will benefit from having access to the highly experienced formulation team in Bothell," she said. "The company has also acquired the rights to the patented CHO cell line expression technology, CHEF1, which we will make available for a nonexclusive license to potential partners. CHEF1 requires no gene amplification step, thus saving many months in cell line development."
As a part of the agreement, CMC will retain the existing 127 employees working at the biologics facility in Bothell. "We feel strongly that the skills inherent in the employees that work here are of great value to the biologics industry and will complement the abilities of our expert workforce in Europe," said David Kauffmann, chairman, CMC.
"Finding the right company to acquire the ICOS biologics operation has been a priority for Lilly," said Gino Santini, Lilly's senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development. "We are pleased that CMC has committed to retaining the existing staff and serving its current customers. As well, CMC keeps an important biotech presence in Seattle in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, which could ultimately generate broader economic growth and opportunity for the region."