Bristol Myers finds a home for 1st EU cell therapy site, clearing land near Amsterdam airport for easy logistics
As Bristol Myers Squibb continues to scale its CAR-T operations, the New York drug giant will open up its first cell manufacturing site in Europe — and it’s tapped space near the Amsterdam airport as its home.
The company is set to build a new cell therapy site in Leiden and leverage the life sciences community near the airport for convenient access for shipping patient cells. Financial terms were not disclosed.
BMS is rapidly expanding its manufacturing capabilities following the approval of Abecma, the first BCMA CAR-T therapy. The drug was co-developed with bluebird and has a list price of $419,500. That nod made Bristol Myers the first and only with two approved CAR-T cell therapies — CD19 and BCMA. Meanwhile, the drugmaker’s scientists are working on oncology treatments for large B cell lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
The Leiden facility is the company’s fifth facility of its kind, but it’s the first in Europe. SVP Ann Lee said in a statement that several hundred people are expected to be hired at the location.
“A key element of BMS’ commitment to cell therapy is our continuous investment in advanced manufacturing capabilities, from the expansion of our global network and capacity to treat patients to reduced turn around time and optimized costs,” she said.
Gilead — whose subsidiary Kite developed CAR-T Yescarta — also has a site in the Netherlands.
Patients’ own cells are sent from the manufacturing facility to a treatment center, and then monitored for weeks to ensure there are no negative reactions. Because of that, close proximity to transportation is key in ensuring reduced shipping time, BMS said in an email to Endpoints News. The site in Leiden is near the Netherlands’ two largest cities — Rotterdam and Amsterdam — and will help cut down on that transportation time.
The European expansion is BMS’ second scale-up announced this week. Tuesday, news broke that the company expanded its already-existing lease at Cambridge Crossing near Boston to continue consolidating its R&D ops in the area. The move will merge all of its Boston-area staff under the same roof in a new state-of-the-art campus that will also be occupied by at least three other biotechs.
Construction in Europe is set to begin later this year, and site planning and development are underway. The company also has cell therapy sites in Bothell, WA; and Warren and Summit, NJ, and teams with contract partners in the EU and Japan. In March, the company announced it would build a massive 244,000-square-foot cell therapy manufacturing facility at its Devens, MA site.