Hospira will prep Indian workers at Vizag 'university'

Hospira has big plans for the sterile injectables plant it is building in Vizag, India. When it opens, perhaps yet this year, it expects the 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility to add capacity at a lower operating cost. But a plant of that size requires a lot of workers, and so Hospira ($HSP) is also making plans to train the people it needs there.

According to the Deccan Chronicle, Hospira is establishing a training center in Vizag to make sure it has sufficient workers with sufficient skills when the plant opens. "Attrition rates are high in the pharma industry. So we are planning to set up Hospira Learning University (HLU) in Vizag, so that the maximum number of pharma graduates can be trained and employed at our plant here," HLU dean Vineet Bhushan said.

It is not unusual in the industry to have technical centers that can train, or retrain, workers in the complex processing and manufacturing operations. Roche ($RHHBY) said last year it would invest $105 million to build a new training center at its site in Kaiseraugst in northern Switzerland that handles quality control and drug packaging. The plant has grown by 30% in the past 5 years.

These kinds of investments also make good regulatory sense. Many of the Indian operations that have run afoul of FDA inspectors in recent years have been criticized for having employees that didn't know what they were supposed to be doing.

Hospira is making big investments in the plant in Vizag. After deciding last year to put new visual inspection equipment into the facility, Hospira said its outlay there could run to $450 million. It expects the sterile injectable facility to add some 500 million units per year to its capacity while helping it lower its cost structure. The facility is forecast to begin commercial production in the second half of this year and ramp up over the following 24 months.

- here's the Deccan Chronicle story