Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Samsung Biologics has had an eventful few months. Early in June 2023, the company announced that its fourth manufacturing plant was now fully operational. A month later, on July 4, it announced an extension of its partnership with Pfizer, with multiple deals totaling $897 million. The partnership is expected to utilize Plant 4 to manufacture biosimilars. This announcement came on the heels of a June 21 filing of a preliminary injunction against competitor Lotte Biologics. The company is pursuing allegations that Lotte has stolen trade secrets from former Samsung Biologics employees.
This confluence of events signifies Samsung Biologics’ position at the center of the CDMO industry. Backed by the support of its parent company, Samsung Group, the company has been particularly active since its establishment in 2012 and has moved to quickly expand its capacity and diversify its portfolio. Plant 4 is the latest development in this expansion, adding 240,000 liters to bring Samsung Biologics’ total capacity to an industry-leading 604,000 liters.
According to Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim, Plant 4 will be an important component of the company’s service offerings going forward, particularly as it moves beyond its focus on monoclonal antibodies and into other areas such as biosimilars, which play a role in the biopharmaceutical industry similar to the that of generic drugs for traditional pharmaceuticals.
“We are pleased to extend the strategic collaboration with Pfizer as we share and support their strong vision to bring innovative solutions for patients around the globe,” said Rim in June when the initial components of the deal were announced. “This new meaningful partnership comes just as our Plant 4 is fully completed early this month as we had previously committed and are on the move for future expansion into our second campus in order to provide our clients with even more flexible and advanced manufacturing technology.”
A New CDMO Partnership
The announcement of the Pfizer partnership follows Samsung Biologics’ March 2023 deal with the pharmaceutical giant for $183 million. The March deal and the recent accord bring Samsung Biologics’ total orders from Pfizer in 2023 to $1.08 billion.
Samsung Biologics had previously announced a $411 million dollar deal in June, with the July announcement adding $293 million to that project, now worth $704 million, and $193 million to the March project (the $193 million is a revaluation of the $183 million). The $704 million partnership is nearly double Samsung Biologics’ previous high, a $360 million deal with AstraZeneca.
The focus of the partnerships is Pfizer’s biosimilars portfolio, which includes applications for oncology, inflammation, and immunology.
Samsung Biologics, Lotte, and CDMO Trade Secrets
Samsung Biologics’ expanding partnerships are in line with a company philosophy that’s focused on continuous growth. It’s become a major player in the CDMO industry over the past decade, and according to the injunction against Lotte, it’s become the target of employee poaching and attempts to steal trade secrets.
Lotte Biologics is a new competitor in the CDMO space, launching in June 2022. Its CEO is Richard Lee, who served as the head of Samsung Biologics’ drug product business for 10 years before joining Lotte. In March 2023, a former Samsung Biologics employee hired by Lotte was indicted for stealing trade secrets, including those related to standard operating procedures, and bringing them to Lotte Biologics when hired by the company.
In that case, Samsung Biologics had filed injunctions against individual employees, but now it’s taking legal action against Lotte as a company. The case is an example of the growing competition in the CDMO industry.
Samsung Biologics’ future plans will involve continuing to develop partnerships such as its deal with Pfizer, as well as continuing to build new facilities. The CDMO broke ground on a fifth plant in 2023, with construction expected to be completed in 2025. It will bring Samsung Biologics’ total capacity to 784,000 liters.
“Given the continuing increase in the demand for outsourced manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals, we are proactively making this investment in alignment with our growth strategy to further strengthen our standing as a leading CDMO,” said Rim. “The new facility will enable us to provide our customers with even greater innovation and services that will increase speed to market and flexibility.”