Drug manufacturer Amaran Biotechnology Inc (潤雅生技) yesterday said it is to invest NT$1 billion (US$33.41 million) to build a factory and a research center at Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park (新竹生醫園區) to conduct clinical trials and manufacture drugs developed by OBI Pharma Inc (台灣浩鼎).
The new facilities are set to become operational in the first quarter of next year, the Taipei-based Amaran said.
The factory will produce botulinum toxin type A biosimilar, which is commonly known as Botox and widely used in cosmetic surgery, along with other generic protein drugs, according to the company.
Botox has become very popular for reducing wrinkles and rejuvenating the aging face. It not only has applications in the cosmetics industry but can be used for drugs to treat migraine, squints, severe underarm sweating and dystonia -- sustained muscle contractions that cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures, according to Amaran.
The company said its new facilities will be the first plant in the nation to be constructed under level 3 biosafety conditions.
The biosafety level 3 is the second-highest on a scale of four, because a high safety level is required for facilities that manufacture Botox in order to limit contamination of the work environment and the surrounding community.
The global market for Botox in 2010 was US$2 billion and it is forecast to grow to US$4.3 billion in 2018, Amaran said, adding that it is the only company in Taiwan that can develop and manufacture that particular type of botulinum toxin.
The research center will be responsible for conducting clinical trials of generic protein drugs developed by Amaran’s partner, OBI Pharma, it said.
Amaran was set up in 2010 as a joint investment between OBI Pharma chairman Michael Chang (張念慈) and Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), the chairman of Ruentex Group (潤泰集團), a business with interests ranging from textiles and construction to retail.
“The reason why Amaran was formed is because we wanted to minimize our risks by letting OBI Pharma focus on the research and development of new drugs, while Amaran is responsible for conducting clinical trials and drug manufacturing,” an OBI Pharma official who declined to be named said by telephone yesterday.
“If our OBI-822/821 drug — which is used to treat breast cancer — can pass the third stage of clinical trials in Taiwan, the new factory will manufacture the drug for us,” she said.
Amaran is also expected to receive investment from Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控) chairman Thomas Wu (吳東亮), who attended college with Chang, after Amaran implements a capital enhancement initiative to strengthen its financial structure, which has a paid-in capital of NT$300 million (US$10 million).
Amaran did not give a timeline for the capital enhancement nor the amount that Wu was to invest in the company.