GSK opens $95M continuous production operation in Singapore

GlaxoSmithKline has added continuous manufacturing to its operations in Singapore, a project that allowed it to incorporate new digital technology that will speed production. (GSK)

A continuous manufacturing facility championed by former GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty has just opened in Singapore, marking a new milestone in the manufacturing of the drugmaker. 

GSK says it built two continuous manufacturing facilities and expanded another facility with its S$130 million ($95) investment. The first new drug to be manufactured with the enzymatic process will be Daprodustat, a new oral treatment for anemia associated with chronic kidney disease. 

One facility is part of a pilot plant and will make APIs for clinical trials. An expanded and revamped production building will allow GSK to speed the production of APIs for HIV medicines, including Dolutegravir, one of its key HIV treatments. 

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RELATED: GSK doubles down on Singapore continuous processing plant

"Advanced manufacturing systems are pivotal for GSK to stay at the forefront of the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector,” GSK Site Director Lim Hock Heng said in a statement. “Further investment in digital manufacturing operations and processes will allow GSK to ensure efficient and high-quality production of our medicines."

GSK was among the early adopters of continuous processing, which, instead of using batches and chemical reactions, pushes raw ingredients through a series of heaters, spinners, extractors and other equipment to achieve and enzymatic result. When it first embarked on the plan in 2013, Witty said it would result in smaller facilities with improved capacity and cut costs and environmental impact by about 50%. 

GSK said it also has used the technology leap to develop digital technologies that speed production.

RELATED: Hovione builds continuous manufacturing plant in U.S. for Vertex

Johnson & Johnson and Vertex, among others, have approved drugs using continuous processing, which the FDA has embraced as a way for drugmakers to improve quality and reduce pharma’s impact on the environment. 

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