Pfizer supplements its China production with $90M plant

Tony Maddaluna, president of Pfizer Global Supply

Pfizer's production site in Suzhou, China, has been around for more than a decade, has 700 employees and makes everything from prescription drugs and antibiotics to Robitussin cough syrup and Caltrate and Centrum supplements. The U.S. drugmaker says right now it needs to expand capacity on the consumer health side.

Pfizer ($PFE) has already broken ground on a $90 million facility that is being built at the Suzhou site, it announced Monday. The additional capacity is needed as demand for its supplements grows in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in China. The facility will primarily manufacture Caltrate dietary supplements and Centrum multivitamins but eventually will be used to make some other products. There are also plans to add R&D facilities at the new plant.

Pfizer intends to build the plant to achieve a LEED certification for energy efficiency with features that include high-efficiency manufacturing equipment and LED and solar-powered lighting with automatic controls. It will use recycled, treated wastewater for cooling and capture rainwater to use on its landscaping. Tony Maddaluna, president of Pfizer Global Supply, said the new plant is in keeping with Pfizer's efforts to "reduce our greenhouse gas emissions globally."

Pfizer, which has three other production facilities in the country in addition to its operations in Suzhou, is one of a lengthy list of companies expanding there. In November, Roche ($RHHBY) said it would build a manufacturing facility in Suzhou as well. The Swiss drugmaker is investing about 450 million Swiss francs ($465 million) in a plant that will manufacture immunochemistry and clinical chemistry tests and is expected to have 600 employees when it is completed in 2018. Bayer, Merck KGaA, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), AbbVie ($ABBV) and Sanofi ($SNY) all have projects underway there as they try to tap the growing middle-class population.

- here's the announcement