Capsugel invests $25M to feed 'appetite' for vegetarian capsules

A growing number of patients want, or need, to know the capsules they take do not come from an animal source, include GMO products or contain other ingredients that might make them sick. Feeding off that trend, capsule technology specialist Capsugel is now upping its production of vegetarian capsules at four sites in different parts of the world. 

Capsugel CEO Guido Driesen

The New Jersey-based company said the work actually began late last year but the bulk of the $25 million will be spent in 2015. The company said it is investing in both new production lines and technology upgrades at manufacturing locations in Greenwood, SC; Puebla, Mexico; Colmar, France; and Sagamihara, Japan.

"Consumers' appetite for clean-label products is at an all-time high, and continuing to grow," Capsugel CEO Guido Driesen said in a statement. "This trend has contributed to a significant increase in demand for high-quality vegetarian capsules."

Capsugel has four different vegetarian capsules, all of which are preservative-free, GMO-ingredient-free and gluten-free.

The use of wheat gluten in some capsules and other drugs is, in fact, the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against the FDA last week. The suit was filed by a sufferer of celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that stems from a reaction to wheat gluten and can cause debilitating eating and digestion issues. The suit seeks to force the FDA to act on a citizen petition that asks that drugmakers either be required to drop the use of gluten in products or label it as an ingredient.

Capsugel has been expanding and buying new technology since private equity firm KKR bought the operation from Pfizer ($PFE) in 2011 for nearly $2.4 billion. In January, Capsugel picked up a drug delivery platform developed at Australia's Monash University that makes use of lipidlike, counter-ion salts to improve the liquid bioavailability of certain drugs.

- here's the release