Aspen Pharmacare to build $235M production facility in South Africa, add hundreds of jobs

Aspen Pharmacare Port Elizabeth site
Aspen Pharmacare says it will build a new facility at its Port Elizabeth site to make sterile anesthetics. (Aspen Pharmacare)

Aspen Pharmacare has seen some financial weakness lately, but that hasn’t stopped it from pledging to make its largest manufacturing investment ever. The South African drugmaker says it will invest nearly $235 million in a facility to manufacture sterile anesthetics.

The announcement was made Friday at a government sponsored economic conference in the country. Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen senior executive offered few details, saying only that the R3.4 billion facility would be built at its Port Elizabeth manufacturing site and that it offered a high tech manufacturing niche “that presents both domestic and export opportunities.”  

RELATED: South Africa's Aspen opens $80M high potency site, adding 500 workers

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The company has said that the sterile anesthetics drug facility, along with a high containment facility that it opened in May, will allow Aspen to add 500 jobs at the Port Elizabeth site.  

“Aspen has become one of the global leaders in a number of niche, specialty therapeutic segments, such as anesthetic, high potency and injectable anti-coagulant products, which present highly specialized public and private health opportunities,” Nicolaou said.

The $80 million, 23,000 square-meter, high potency facility opened last spring produces specialized meds like alkeran, leukeran and purinethol for cancer, as well as Parkinson’s disease drug benztropine.  

The company’s share price has fallen by nearly half since September when it reported weaker than expected financial results. At the time it also said (PDF) it would sell its nutrition business to Lactalis Group for €740 million. Analysts told BusinessDay that in addition to the weak numbers, the sale of the nutrition business for half what some expected has weighed on the company’s share price.   

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