Roche completes Shanghai plant expansion, starts on new project

Roche ($RHHBY) has new manufacturing operations in Shanghai up and running.

CEO Severin Schwan announced the completion of the three-year expansion project at its site in Zhangjiang while he was in Shanghai over the weekend. According to the Shanghai Daily, he also said the company has kicked off construction of a new R&D center there. The two projects have a combined price tag of 900 million yuan ($143 million).

Hong Chow, GM of Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals, told the newspaper the small molecule plant was a "key link in Roche's global production chain" that would boost production of meds both for China and for export to other markets.

Like others, the Swiss drugmaker has been expanding operations in the area. A year ago it announced its intent to invest about 450 million Swiss francs ($465 million) to build a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China. When completed in 2018, it expects to have 600 people working there. It is slated to eventually manufacture immunochemistry and clinical chemistry tests, but the first phase will be for packaging.

Lots of Western drugmakers are building facilities in China and Shanghai. Last year, Bayer announced a €100 million ($127 million) investment in its Beijing manufacturing plant to boost production of cardio and diabetes drugs. Merck KGaA started work last year on a new €80 million ($102 million) plant in Nantong that it says will be its largest outside of Europe. It will produce meds on China's Essential Drug List. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), AbbVie ($ABBV) and Sanofi ($SNY) also have projects underway.

- read the Shanghai Daily story