Novartis opens Austria plant as part of its biosimilars push

Two weeks ago, Novartis ($NVS) launched a copy of Amgen's ($AMGN) Neupogen (filgrastim), its first in what it expects to be a thriving business in biosimilars, in the U.S. In anticipation of big sales, its Sandoz unit has now opened a plant in Austria to make the autoinjectors that will dispense the drugs.

Sandoz, which now refers to itself as the generics and biosimilars business of Novartis, said today that it has invested €150 million ($170 million) in the BioInject facility at Schaftenau in the Tyrolean Alps, which has 100 workers.

Carol Lynch, global head of biopharma and oncology injectables at Sandoz

Carol Lynch, global head of biopharmaceuticals and oncology injectables at Sandoz, said in a statement that the facility is an indication of "the company's commitment to further strengthening its global leadership in biosimilars."

The plant will manufacture prefilled syringes and devices for both Sandoz' biosimilars and Novartis' biologic drugs. It has the capacity to manufacture 18,000 and package 100 syringes a minute. The Swiss company said the facility will be central to Novartis' biomanufacturing network which includes facilities in Slovenia, Singapore and France.

The inauguration of a new facility comes after Sandoz recently announced the pending closure of three plants, which will mean the loss of about 770 jobs. In July, the company said that it would be shuttering a tablet and capsule packaging plant in Gerlingen, Germany, and API plants in Frankfurt and Turbhe, Maharashtra, India, all by the end of 2016.

- here's the release