Cherwell expands to meet plate demand as regulators crack down

While the world's best athletes are in the U.K. competing in the London Olympics for gold medals, England's Cherwell Laboratories hopes to pick up some metal of its own. Cherwell has completed the first half of an expansion project that will culminate in doubling the size of its Bicester lab to meet the growing demand for its Redipor prepared media.

The first stage wrapped up with the addition of about 3,000 square feet for a new inspection and packing room, as well as associated office and gowning space. The second stage, scheduled for 2013, will expand the facility's clean room, as Cherwell paces itself to produce 6.5 million agar plates per year. When the project concludes, the clean room will reach more than 10,000 square feet, up from the previous 4,736 square feet.

In-PharmaTechnologist reports that the expansion was spurred by a 25% sales boom for Cherwell's plates. Cherwell Managing Director Andy Whittard expects the company to pick up more business as regulators put more pressure on the pharmaceutical industry and clients look for suppliers to help them meet those demands. "We believe that this growth is due to the fact that the demands on the pharmaceutical industry for more environmental monitoring are ever increasing as the regulators continually revise their interpretation of contamination risk," Whittard told In-PharmaTechnologist.

Just this month, the FDA issued an import ban on German-owned Hemofarm after an inspection revealed desiccated monitoring plates at its plant in Vrsac, Serbia. In February, Memphis, TN, biologics manufacturer, Edge Biologicals, felt the FDA's sting with not one, but 32 contamination complaints concerning some of its growth media plates. Neither company has yet to receive a closeout letter.

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