US drug giant Pfizer is investing in additional sterile manufacturing capacity at its facility in Portage, Michigan
The $21m (€15m) investment will be used to upgrade a production, packaging and quality inspection area at the plant, which makes 50 injectable drugs including Solu-Medrol, Depo-Provera and Solu-Cortef.
Pfizer spokesman Richard Chambers told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “The latest project will upgrade 6,000 square feet of production space with the latest HVAC systems, enhance vial sterilization systems, reduce energy costs through better lighting and chilled water controls
He added that the firm will “renovate office and lab space, and enhance production efficiency by changing parts of the facility’s interior layout for a better flow of people and materials.”
The expansion, which is tentatively set to begin in mid to late summer according to Chambers, will require an eight-week shutdown of the sterile production area.
“Most of the 200 people who work in that area will be helping with the upgrade, preparing to restart operations, or assisting other units. However, on any given day, as many as 30 colleagues may not have a work assignment.”
The sterile area upgrade follows a $107m expansion of the plant that was completed in 2010 and currently is undergoing validation.
The expansion projects are something of turnaround in the Portage facility’s fortunes given that, in 2007, it was one of the Pfizer’s plants that saw cuts after the market failure of the inhaled insulin product Exubera .
The move also bucks the trend that has seen Pfizer reduce in-house manufacturing capacity in favour of increased outsourcing of pharmaceutical production operations to third parties.
However, according to Chambers, the investment in internal manufacturing is not a change of strategy but part of an effort to balance capacity in line with Pfizer's needs.
“Pfizer strives to build the best globally competitive supply network using both internal and external resources. Accomplishing this requires the right mix of outsourcing, which is a long-standing and ongoing strategy for Pfizer, along with optimization of our internal manufacturing plants.
“Our plants understand the need to compete; operational excellence is job number one across Pfizer’s global manufacturing network.”