Bristol-Myers Squibb has linked up with Samsung BioLogics in a deal which will see the South Korean group manufacture the former's melanoma drug Yervoy.

The companies have entered into a ten-year agreement which will see Yervoy (ipilimumab) produced at Samsung's recently-completed plant in Songdo Incheon, South Korea. Financial terms have not been disclosed and technology transfer and trial production will commence in July 2013.

Commercial production will immediately begin following regulatory approvals. A B-MS spokeswoman told Pharma Times that Samsung will produce bulk drug substance for Yervoy for markets outside the USA. The monoclonal antibody that blocks cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen (CTLA-4) was approved in the USA in March 2011 and is currently available in 41 countries.

Having a manufacturing base in the Asia-Pacific is going to help B-MS meet demand for Yervoy as it gets further approvals in the area. It is already a very big earner for the US major and second-quarter sales reached $233 million, up 44%.

Tae-Han Kim, chief executive of Samsung BioLogics, said that the relationship with B-MS represents "the validation of our long-term commitment to the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry".