Biogen announces billion-franc drugs plant

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Biogen announces billion-franc drugs plant
Aerial view of building site for Biogen plant. Photo: Canton of Solothurn

Biogen, an international biotechnology company, announced on Tuesday plans to invest one billion francs ($1.06 billion) for a new drug manufacturing plant in Luterbach in the canton of Solothurn.


The company told a press conference with officials from the canton that work would begin on the plant at the end of this year with completion set for the end of 2018.

By 2019 the plant should be operational, creating 400 jobs and producing biopharmaceutical medicine, Biogen said.

The plant would be the fifth for the company in the world.

Founded in 1978 by a group of biologists in Geneva, the company has grown to employ 7,500 people with operations in 30 countries and annual revenues of $5 billion.

With corporate headquarters in Massachusetts and international headquarters in the canton of Zug, the company says it is committed to discovering, developing and delivering therapies to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders and hemophilia, according to its website.

Biogen said it has several new drugs in the pipeline that have created the need for additional production capacity.

"Thanks to excellent support from the canton of Solothurn, the municipality of Luterbach and the federal government, we have the opportunity to build the most advanced production facilities in the world," Natascha Schill, CEO of Biogen Switzerland, said in a statement.

She said Solothurn "offers a business-friendly environment, reliable infrastructure, and access to well-trained labour."

As well, Schill noted that Biogen already had its international headquarters in Switzerland.

"All these factors contribute to the fact that we want to expand our global production network in Luterbach." 

The canton of Solothurn said a preliminary agreement had been signed with Biogen.

But it said a period of public consultation was needed, with a municipal meeting planned later this week to gather feedback.

Interpharma, the association of research-based pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland, welcomed Biogen’s announcement.

It is a clear sign of the “attractiveness of Switzerland” as a location for the pharmaceutical industry, Interpharma spokesman Thomas Cueni is quoted as saying by the Tages Anzeiger newspaper.



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