Former Sanofi and BMS plants in EU reclaimed by Asian drugmakers

Prescription and pills
South Korea's SK Biotek and India's Accord Healthcare have taken over former Big Pharma manufacturing sites in Ireland and the U.K.

Two European manufacturing plants discarded by Big Pharma have been resuscitated by Asian companies, one Indian and one Korean, and are open for business.

Accord Healthcare, a unit of India’s Intas Pharmaceuticals, has reopened a plant in Fawdon, Newcastle, in the U.K. that it picked up in 2015 after Sanofi closed the facility. South Korea’s SK Biotek has started operations at an API plant in Ireland that it bought last year from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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Accord will make solid dose products at the 22-acre site in Fawden and says it will hire from 350 to 500 employees, many of whom it expects to be former workers at the facility, the Chronicle reports.

“We have invested heavily in the site,” James Burt, Accord’s executive VP for Europe, told the newspaper at an opening ceremony. “We have brought in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, we have upgraded the quality of the site so the medicines that are produced here are of a higher quality, and we have offered employment prospects back to a lot of people who were on this site previously.”

He said Accord is also investing in a lab so that it can develop new products at the site. 

RELATED: Bristol-Myers selling Ireland plant to South Korean company with large aspirations

Last week, SK Biotek celebrated being the first South Korean drug company to set up operations in Ireland at the API plant in Swords it acquired from BMS. It took over the plant on Jan. 1 and has taken on the 360 employees who worked there. The company, which got a contract to continue to produce some products for Bristol-Myers, intends to use the facility as a base for CDMO work in Europe.

“We plan to enhance technological capability and manufacturing capacity and build long-term partnerships with existing and new customers and look forward to growing our presence in Swords in the coming years,” SK Biotek CEO Junku Park, Ph.D., said in a statement.

SK Holdings, the parent company of SK Biotek, had revenues that topped $120 billion in 2016. Like South Korea’s Samsung, it has decided that contract pharma manufacturing is a natural offshoot of its chemical and ingredient businesses and has identified it as a growth driver for the company. It has four plants in South Korea, and execs have said they hope that someday SK could rival CDMOs like Lonza and Boehringer Ingelheim.