CDMO Avara snaps up former Hospira sterile plant from Pfizer

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Norwalk, Connecticut-based Avara Pharmaceutical Services is adding sterile manufacturing to its portfolio with a deal to buy a plant in Italy from Pfizer.

A two-year-old CDMO that has created its manufacturing network snapping up unwanted plants from Big Pharma has grabbed another, this time a once-troubled Hospira sterile plant that Pfizer is unloading.  

Avara Pharmaceutical Services said Tuesday that it has struck a deal to buy the former Hospira plant in Liscate, Italy. Terms of the deal were kept under wraps but a Pfizer spokeswoman said that the 250 employees of the plant will join Avara. 

"This acquisition is an important component of our strategic plan and expands our services by adding sterile processing capability, which is in very high demand," Avara CEO Timothy Tyson said in a statement.

The deal comes two months after the FDA granted the plant in Liscate a closeout letter tied to a warning letter that had been issued in 2015, shortly after Pfizer had announced its deal to buy Hospira for $15 billion.

RELATED: Hospira gets yet another warning letter, this one for Italy plant

The warning letter raised questions about the plant's vial-stoppering procedures, its failure to look deeply enough into complaints and its lack of controls for access to prevent data deletions from test equipment, among other things. The FDA issued a closeout letter in June indicating the plant now meets FDA expectations.

Avara, created in 2015, pointed out it will now have six sites around the globe, two in the U.S., including the corporate headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, one in Puerto Rico, one in the U.K., one in Ireland and the sterile plant in Italy.

RELATED: U.S. CMO buys AstraZeneca U.K. plant, saves 210 jobs

Avara got its start after its parent, American Industrial Acquisition Corporation, bought a plant in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, taking on the 200 employees. It followed that up by buying a small-molecule active pharmaceutical (API) plant from UCB early last year. Within a month’s time, it struck a deal to buy the U.S. manufacturing operations of Japan’s Astellas, and then picked up an API plant in the U.K. that AstraZeneca was set to close, saving more than 200 jobs in the process.

In the Astellas deal, Avara got a 312,153-square-foot plant in Norman, Oklahoma, and took on about 200 employees. It also struck a deal to continue to make products for Astellas.   

Terms were not disclosed in that deal either, but Astellas said it would take a ¥9.0 billion ($89 million) charge in its quarter ended Sept. 30 for the loss of plant and equipment.