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Seagen to expand, add jobs with new cancer drug factory

Dive Brief:

  • Seagen, the largest biotechnology company in the Seattle area, has unveiled plans for a manufacturing facility to help provide “greater control and flexibility” over the production of its cancer medicines.

 

  • The 270,000-square-foot plant will be built in Everett, Washington, roughly 15 miles north of Seagen’s headquarters in Bothell, Washington. The company expects its new plant to be operational in 2024 and to employ as many as 200 workers, who will make drugs for clinical trials and commercial use. Seagen currently has four therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration, along with more than 40 pipeline projects.

 

  • In its most recent earnings report, Seagen said the Everett project would cost the company approximately $350 million to $400 million over the following three years.

 

Dive Insight:

Formerly known as Seattle Genetics, Seagen has grown to become one of the industry’s largest biotechs, with a market value of $26 billion.

Seagen’s business is built on antibody drug conjugates, or ADCs, a type of medicine that uses laboratory-engineered antibodies to shepherd toxic payloads to specific cells. The company’s first FDA-approved medicine, for example, is an ADC used to treat multiple blood cancers.

Since the initial approval of that medicine, Adcetris, in 2011, Seagen has brought three more drugs to market. The FDA cleared Padcev in 2019 for a common form of bladder cancer, Tukysa in 2020 for an advanced type of breast cancer, and Tivdak in 2021 for hard-to-treat cervical cancer. Together, these drugs generated nearly $1.4 billion in net sales for Seagen last year.

While working to expand the labels on its four products, Seagen is developing additional treatments that it hopes will eventually gain marketing approval. One, called ladiratuzumab vedotin, has advanced to mid-stage human testing, where it’s being studied as a monotherapy for various solid tumors and evaluated alongside Merck & Co.’s Keytruda for a certain kind of breast cancer.

Seagen has at least another eight experimental drugs in the early stages of clinical testing.

According to the company, the new Everett facility should help ensure an adequate supply of Seagen’s cancer medicines are being produced for clinical trials and commercial demands.

“In cancer research and development, Seagen must continue to be agile and flexible, especially in manufacturing,” said Seagen CEO Clay Siegall in a statement Wednesday.

The initiative will also add jobs at a time when many biotech companies are reducing workforces to save cash. More than three dozen biotechs have restructured since last fall, and two, Imara and Finch Therapeutics, announced job cuts in the last week.

SeaGen has more than 2,800 employees, more than 1,600 of whom work in the Pacific Northwest.