Ready-to-assemble GE drug plants hit the ground in China

In this day of instant gratification, instant feedback via social media, fast food and fast fashion, General Electric ($GE) wants to add fast prefabricated drug manufacturing plants to the list.

The company is using China as a testbed for the prefab plants and shipped its first prefab to the mainland from Germany in September, according to a report in the Taipei Times.

The plant was sent to a biotechnology zone in Wuhan in 62 containers and was assembled in 11 days, according to the report. Traditional drug fab plants can cost between $200 million to $500 million and take more than a year to build, but GE's prefab operations can cut that cost by 45%, the report said.

A rendering of GE's KUBio prefab plant--Courtesy of Business Wire

GE says the prefab plants can also cut the time from set up to production by about half. The company says it worked with China's Food and Drug Administration, according to Olivier Loeillot, the general manager of GE Healthcare Life Sciences Asia.

"As the pharmaceutical industry goes from big-volume blockbuster drugs to tailored, smaller-scale drug manufacturing, we want to meet that demand," he told the Taipei Times.

GE calls the prefab plants "KUBio" and the company wants to use them to build up market share in the pharmaceutical supply chain sector, the report said. The company says 90% of the biologic medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are made using its technology.

The plant in China was sold to JHL Biotech, which is backed by venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. JHL officials said they plan to build more such plants in China and to use them to meet European and U.S. drug manufacturing standards.

- here's the story from the Taipei Times