Piramal investing $11M in U.K. plant

The way execs at Piramal Healthcare see it, there are good reasons to expand production at Piramal's hormonal medicines plant in Morpeth, U.K. The market is worth $11 billion and growing at 4% to 5% a year, and there are not many contract manufacturers that play in that space. And so the Indian manufacturer will triple production there.

"The production of hormonal products is a highly specialized, niche area. With major competition limited to a small number of CMOs in Europe, Piramal sees major opportunities for growth in this area given our vast experience in this field, which spans more than 40 years," said Vijay Shah, COO of Piramal Enterprises.

Work on the new suite at the 13,000-square-foot Morpeth facility is slated to begin at the end of the year and is expected to take 12 months to complete. The company projects it will take another 6 months to get it validated. The expansion will include formulation, packaging coating and tableting equipment. The additional capacity will allow the manufacturer to triple production to two billion tablets a year, it said. When complete, Piramal expects to be one of the largest contract manufacturers in this niche, which requires having a dedicated manufacturing facility for the handling of high-potent molecules to meet FDA and MHRA regulations.

The Indian company bought the plant in 2006 from Pfizer ($PFE). It currently produces active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and does general solid formulation production, as well as performing a range of clinical trial supply and research processes. This expansion comes after the company's recent investment of $2.5 million at its FDA-approved plant in Grangemouth, U.K., to upgrade one of its two antibody drug conjugate (ADC) manufacturing suites there.

While the U.K. has seen its share of plant cuts, it also has seen a spate of expansions announced in recent months. Japanese drugmaker Eisai will invest £8 million ($12.5 million) to build a packaging facility at its production plant in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Fujifilm is spending what it terms is tens of millions of dollars to expand its mammalian cell manufacturing capacity at a plant in Billingham, while AstraZeneca ($AZN) recently got planning approval to add an aseptic drug manufacturing facility at its complex in Macclesfield.

- here's the release