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[Best Brand] Samsung Biologics rises as global supply chain for COVID-19 vaccines

Samsung Biologics headquarters in Songdo, west of Seoul (Samsung Biologics)
Samsung Biologics headquarters in Songdo, west of Seoul (Samsung Biologics)

Samsung Biologics, the major biopharmaceutical unit of Korea’s Samsung Group, has become a global manufacturing hub for COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, joining forces with global drugmakers to curb the widespread pandemic.

In the last two years, the pharmaceutical giant has landed contracts with five companies -- Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Moderna, GreenLight Biosciences and GlaxoSmithKline -- to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccines and drugs.

On Dec. 14, the company expanded its earlier deal with AstraZeneca ito manufacture the pharma’s COVID-19 antibody combination Evusheld. The new deal is estimated to be worth 450 billion won ($380 million), up about $59 billion won from the initial contract.

Evusheld was the first long-acting antibody combination to receive emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and also got the green light from France, Italy and Bahrain.

In November 2020, when the biopharmaceutical industry was having hard time acquiring pharmaceutical ingredients, Samsung Biologics was able to manufacture drugs that met Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations enforced by the FDA just five months after signing the contract with Eli Lilly.

The power behind such performance lies in quick technology transfers from experts in the global approval of drugs to Samsung Biologics. The company was able to shorten the process, which normally takes between six months and several years, down to three months.

Acting as a key player in the global vaccine supply chain, the pharmaceutical giant is taking the lead in manufacturing messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines as well. After the firm signed a contract with Moderna in May to perform the “fill and finish” stage of the manufacturing process, it was given approval by the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

It is the first case of a local pharmaceutical company helping manufacture an mRNA vaccine and being approved by the Ministry. It has created high hopes for Korea’s pharmaceutical industry’s involvement in manufacturing mRNA vaccines for domestic and global use.

The firm has expanded its business to make raw materials for drugs, as well. In November, it forged a partnership with GreenLight Biosciences to mass-produce raw materials for mRNA vaccines.

By 2022, Samsung Biologics plans to establish mRNA vaccines DS production line. If completed, it will carry out an end-to-end process of a massive, germ-free production of DS, labeling, packaging and a cold-chain storage.

Also, the pharmaceutical giant provides a virtual live tour for global pharma clients who cannot take business trips to Samsung Biologics due to the pandemic. Clients can inspect and audit the firm during the live tour and look around the factories using virtual reality.

Playing a key role in the global pharmaceutical market, Samsung Biologics marked 1.1 trillion won in cumulative sales in the third quarter this year, up from last year’s 789 billion won.

The firm is poised to partially activate four additional plants by the end of 2022.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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