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Samsung BioLogics on course to greatest biopharma manufacturing capability

Saving time and lowering costs are decisive factors for a contract manufacturing operator that produces biopharmaceutical products. And Samsung BioLogics is confident of achieving both, the firm’s vice president said.

“It’s a matter of capability that can deliver a stable supply of products as clients want,” Yoon Ho-yeol, vice president of the firm, told The Investor and The Korea Herald.

The 6-year-old company is expected to have a total of 360,000 liters of capacity, the world’s greatest biopharmaceutical product manufacturing capability, when its third plant complete in 2018. 

Samsung BioLogics’ head office in Songdo, Incheon, houses two production facilities, with a third currently under construction. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Samsung BioLogics’ head office in Songdo, Incheon, houses two production facilities, with a third currently under construction. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

It is also thinking of expanding the facilities overseas, remaining open to all locations including the EU and US.

By capitalizing on Samsung’s manufacturing prowess, the company is seeking to outsmart other established contract drugmakers, he said.

The following are questions and answers from the interview with him.

Q: What’s Samsung BioLogic’s competitive edge?

A: You can call it a crystalized version of Samsung. A quick decision-making process and construction capability backed by the capital strength of Samsung. A strong and supportive decision maker is crucial in this industry. 

For example, when we hadn’t even seen a first product manufactured from the first plant, the construction for the second facility started. This wasn’t possible without Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. 

It normally takes six to seven years to see completion of a production process in this sector. Many companies fail to wait for that lead time. But we were able to stand the test of time as we have a fast decision process coming from the management led by the (de facto) owner.

Q: Is Samsung BioLogics still considered a newcomer in the industry?

A: We lack experience in making drugs but our execution has proven to be efficient, taking only 30 months from signing a contract to receiving approval for a drug. Industry people call it a world record.

The company learned fast about the drugmaking process and its facilities, which resulted in pursuing more innovative and customized plants. Without speed, high technology cannot be maintained.

Q: What’s your forecast for the biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing operator industry?

A: The biosimilar industry will enter into an era of mega competition and big drugmakers will outsource manufacturing to spend more money on their pipeline development, just like semiconductors.

I think biopharmaceutical firms will push their outsourcing level from 25 percent to 50 percent in the next few years.

Q: Any plan to set up an overseas production facility?

A: We have already prepared for a fourth plant site, but it is natural to think about building a plant in Europe or the US as they are large pharmaceutical markets.

By Park Han-na / The Investor (
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