From June 13 to 16, Samsung Biologics, a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), participated in the 2022 Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention, the world’s largest biotechnology convention. The CDMO showcased its industry-leading manufacturing capacity and plans for sustainable growth at a large, 140-square-meter pavilion. It sponsored several events and emphasized its expanded mRNA vaccine production capabilities at the convention, with Samsung Biologics Executive Vice President Pierre Catignol leading a panel discussion on the future of mRNA technology.
The 2022 BIO International Convention theme was “Limitless Together,” an appropriate theme for a biopharmaceuticals industry that continues to innovate, and an appropriate theme for Samsung Biologics, which is growing at a rapid pace.
The CDMO has quickly built industry-leading capacity since its establishment in 2011. It continues to plan expansion as part of what Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim calls the company’s “multidimensional growth plan.” Samsung Biologics’ strategy includes increasing its manufacturing capacity, diversifying its portfolio, and increasing its presence internationally by adding additional facilities outside of its South Korea headquarters.
Samsung Biologics recently announced that the construction of its fourth plant is ahead of schedule, with the plant beginning partial operations in October 2022 and ready for full operations in early 2023. Upon completion, the plant’s 256,000 liters of capacity will be the most at any single facility and will bring Samsung Biologics’ total capacity to 620,000 liters, the largest capacity of any CDMO in a single location. In addition, Samsung Biologics recently completed the construction of a new mRNA vaccine production facility.
At a press conference at the BIO convention, Rim explained that the speed at which Samsung Biologics can construct effective facilities sets the company apart from other CDMOs.
“Samsung Biologics finished the construction of three plants in only seven years. I’ve worked in a few global biopharmaceutical firms but never saw any companies that could do what we can,” he said. “It normally takes four years to construct a facility, but we are nearly two times faster than our competitors. We have very many young talented employees and smart people contributing to the growth of Samsung Biologics.”
Expanded mRNA Vaccine Production
With the construction of its new mRNA vaccine production facility, Samsung Biologics is building on its success as a manufacturer of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. The CDMO provided fill/finish services, packaging, and labeling for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at its Songdo, South Korea, facilities. Samsung Biologics recently added drug substance capabilities to these drug product services, meaning that it can produce the active substance in an mRNA vaccine and transfer the drug substance to a sterile vial to provide end-to-end mRNA vaccine production.
The first mRNA vaccine produced at the new facility is a COVID-19 vaccine candidate from GreenLight Biosciences, but these end-to-end mRNA vaccine production capabilities could have potential applications beyond COVID-19.
This was a theme discussed throughout the BIO convention. While COVID-19 continues to remain a primary focus of the biopharmaceuticals industry, the pandemic accelerated the development of mRNA technology and provided proof that an mRNA vaccine could be successful and produced at large scales for other applications.
Because mRNA can be easily edited and synthesized, mRNA vaccines can be produced and tested at a much faster rate than traditional vaccines, which require growing a virus in mammalian cells or chicken eggs. The easy editability of mRNA vaccines has led researchers to pursue mRNA therapeutics for diseases ranging from cancer to Zika virus and influenza.
In addition to mRNA vaccine production, Samsung Biologics highlighted its focus on sustainability at the BIO convention. Its pavilion featured a “Sustainability Wall” dedicated to outlining the ways the company is emphasizing sustainability as it continues to grow.
The CDMO has established a detailed energy management policy and an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) committee to assess the environmental impact of its facilities and reduce its carbon footprint. Samsung Biologics has also committed to several sustainability initiatives, including the Sustainable Markets Initiative.
“In light of the increasing importance of actions toward ESG management, Samsung Biologics issued its first annual sustainability report, consolidating its policies for an enhanced ESG management system and establishing an ESG committee,” explained Rim in a March 2022 letter to shareholders. “Samsung Biologics also received an ‘A’ ESG rating from the Korea Corporate Governance Services (KCGS) and was added to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, a first for a Korean pharmaceutical company. We will further enhance our social contribution activities and initiatives to build a harmonious coexistence of individuals, companies, and the environment.”
The Future of the Biopharmaceutical Industry
As the leading biopharmaceutical industry conference in the world — featuring 1,140 companies and over 15,000 attendees — the BIO International Convention is a good indicator of the current state and future trajectory of the industry.
This year’s convention, held in San Diego in person for the first time in three years, represented the industry’s forward momentum as it continues to work toward the goal of emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samsung Biologics’ strong presence at the convention is indicative of the role that the CDMO will play in the biopharmaceuticals industry’s growth. As the industry’s leader in manufacturing capacity, Samsung Biologics is equipped to handle increasing demand for biologic medicines. And, as showcased throughout the convention, it is committed to pursuing innovative new areas such as mRNA vaccine production and focusing on the importance of sustainability as the industry grows.