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Samsung aims to be No. 1 bio contract development, research firm

By Oct 30, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Samsung Biologics Co. has become the world’s No. 1 contract manufacturing organization (CMO) this year and aims to also lead both the contract development and contract research markets within the decade, its chief executive said.

“We will take the top position in the world as a CDO (contract development organization) by 2025 and as a CRO (contract research organization) by 2030 in terms of orders received,” its CEO Kim Tae-han said during an opening ceremony for its CDO research & development center in San Francisco on Oct. 29.

It picked the West Coast city to build its first overseas R&D center to provide timely services to global biotech companies.The San Francisco-based CDO R&D center is equipped with all state-of-the-art CDO service platforms. It plans to build new R&D centers in eastern cities of the US and Western Europe next year. It will also enter the Chinese and Japanese markets.

Samsung Biologics CEO Kim Tae-han
Samsung Biologics CEO Kim Tae-han

The global markets for CMOs, CDOs and CROs have been rapidly growing with surging demand for vaccines and medicines for COVID-19.

Due to a shortage of CDO and CRO suppliers, many pharmaceutical companies have not yet entered the clinical trial stage for new medicine and vaccine candidates.

CDOs handle development and production of a new drug, including cell line development, to qualify for first-stage clinical trials. CROs take charge of new material development to non-clinical trials, R&D consulting and seeking approval on behalf of drug developers.

The global CRO market is estimated at $45.2 billion this year, according to Grand View Research. It is more than triple the CMO market worth $13.3 billion, based on Frost & Sullivan, a market research firm. The CDO market is worth $2 billion. 

Global pharmaceutical firms’ diversification in their production bases away from Europe benefited Samsung Biologics, amid the spreading COVID-19. The South Korean company has received a series of CMO orders from GlaxoSmithKline and other foreign pharmaceutical companies, as well as CDO orders for coronavirus treatment development.

In August, Samsung announced that it would invest 1.74 trillion won ($1.5 billion) to build its fourth plant in Songdo, west of Seoul. The new plant will have enough capacity to handle the entire CDO process, from cell line development to the finished product.

Samsung plans for its CDO business division to secure up to half of the CMO orders by 2030.

CEO Kim is considering entering the vaccine CMO market, which requires facility expansion. Samsung Biologics is producing antibody drugs through animal cell cultures, meaning it is unable to produce viral vector-based vaccines nor microbial cell culture-based vaccines.

As for market rumors that Samsung Biologics may manufacture a Russia-developed vaccine, CEO Kim declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement, but said: “We are looking to enter the vaccine market.”

Write to Wu-sub Kim at

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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