Boehringer Ingelheim Shanghai plant tripling capacity

A major expansion of a Boehringer Ingelheim plant in China has come online. Started two years ago, the additional manufacturing, packing and distribution operations are expected to allow the plant in Shanghai to eventually triple its capacity.

In an announcement last week, company officials touted the €70 million ($95 million) investment in the manufacturing and research and development operations, while pointing to more expansion next year. "We will invest further into the site in 2014 to set up a development lab for biopharmaceuticals," Director Wolfgang Baiker said. "All these activities show Boehringer Ingelheim's commitment to supporting innovation and growing our business further in China--one of the most important pharma markets in the world."

The company said it will add more than 100 jobs at the plant, building employment to 350. The project includes a packaging center, quality-control labs and automated warehouse and logistics equipment. It primarily produces tablets and syrups and expects to be manufacturing more than 150 million packages in 2016 and up to 220 million in 2018.

The company also moved its Center of Competence to the site from Waigaojiao, China. This chemicals R&D laboratory does analytical testing of active pharmaceutical ingredients and chemical intermediates that Boehringer Ingelheim buys in China as well as R&D work on optimizing processes.

Boehringer claims to be among the fastest-growing drug companies in China, a market it has been in since 1984. And the current expansion is not its only project there. In June, it created a strategic alliance with Zhangjiang Biotech & Pharmaceutical Base Development (ZJ Base) in Pudong, Shanghai, which will build the facility under BI's tutelage. The plant will help develop and manufacture biologic drugs using mammalian cell culture technology. BI will invest €35 million ($44.9 million) in the plant, which it expects to begin operating in 2016.

Boehringer Ingelheim joins a number of other companies, including Novartis ($NVS) and Merck ($MRK), which are adding to their operations in China.

- here's the announcement