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

Aspen Pharmacare's site in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, already its largest. (Aspen Pharmacare)

South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare is expanding into complex meds for cancer and other conditions and has just opened an $80 million facility that can produce them, adding hundreds of jobs in the process.

The 1 billion Rand, 23,000 square-meter, high potency facility is slated to make specialized meds like alkeran, leukeran and purinethol for cancer and Parkinson’s disease drug benztropine, as well as others. At full capacity, it is expected to produce approximately 3.6 billion tablets annually and package some 3 million bottles per month.

RELATED: South Africa's Aspen has rapid expansion aims for China market

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The facility was built as Aspen’s site in Port Elizabeth, already its largest with about 2,000 employees. Aspen expects to hire another 500 as production ramps up at the new facility and it eventually builds a sterile drug facility.

“With this new facility, it is anticipated that around 95% of these new products are to be exported with target markets in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa with the first exports expected to Europe" South Africa's Minister of Trade Minister of Trade Rob Davies said.

The new plant has already been approved by the German regulator, Landesamt für soziale Dienste des Landes Schleswig-Holstein (LAsD), as well as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.  

RELATED: Pfizer, Roche cancer drug pricing under investigation in South Africa 

While the new facility will allow the company to produce specialized cancer drugs, Aspen already produces some chemo meds. Last year, after questions were raised by EU authorities about price hikes Aspen had taken on cancer drugs, the Competition Commission of South Africa took a look at prices charged by Aspen, Roche and Pfizer.  

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