Fujifilm Plans Bigger Global Push Into Complex Biologic Drugs

  • Fujifilm aims for sales of 100 billion yen from drug business
  • Photofilm maker has expanded into health care in recent years

Fujifilm Holdings Corp., the 83-year-old Japanese company that got its start selling photofilm, is boosting its drug manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and U.K. and looking to acquire factories to make more complex biopharmaceutical therapies.

The Japanese company, which has in recent years diversified into health care, is aiming for sales of 100 billion yen ($921 million) by the year ending March 2024 from its contract manufacturing business that mass produces medicines for international drugmakers.

The expansion into biologics is part of Fujifilm’s plan to more than double its revenue from its health-care business to 1 trillion yen by 2019. In recent years, the company has diversified to offset pressures in the traditional photofilm business and its operations now include everything from copy machines to cosmetics.

Fujifilm, which this week announced plans to invest 14 billion yen to ramp up its drug manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and U.K., will also consider buying other factories or entering into partnerships to boost output, Takatoshi Ishikawa, general manager of the company’s BioCDMO division said in an interview in Tokyo.

The global drug industry is pushing to meet rising demand for biologic drugs, which are complex treatments made of live substances and used for conditions such as cancer or rheumatoid arthritis. Fujifilm’s expansion plans would pit it against larger international rivals such as Switzerland’s Lonza Group AG and Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim GmBH, which are the world’s largest contract manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals.

Fujifilm plans to add three 2,000-liter tanks to manufacture antibodies, types of molecules that can help stimulate the body’s immune response, in a recently completed plant in Texas. The added facilities in Texas will begin operation early next year. The company is also expanding a U.K. facility to boost development of the production process of biologic products.

“Our facilities are booked up for a long time because pharma companies are increasingly developing and selling biopharmaceuticals,’’ said Ishikawa, who says Fujifilm is primarily wants to make novel drugs. “Some pharma companies are facing trouble securing production lines. That’s why we need to invest in the business more.’’

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