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Aesica ramps up HPAPI capacity to meet industry demand

By Natalie Morrison , 07-Nov-2012
Last updated on 07-Nov-2012 at 14:36 GMT

The technical challenge posed by potent APIs means drug industry demand for R&D-scale contract manufacturing is still underserved, according to Aesica.

The UK contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) made the comments at CPhI and told the observation was one driver behind its decision to invest in development-scale granulation and coating capacity at its facility in Nottingham.

The other according to site manager Ian Lafferty was the number of enquiries Aesica has received about capacity for high potency work at the site since it opened in May.

We’ve had a number of enquiries about more difficult capabilities, such as granulation and we’ve shown we can build an isolator around this equipment and still operate them.

“For instance, fluid bed coating and fluid bed granulation are dusty processes, and doing that with a HP compound causes even more issues than with capsule filling. Doing it inside the isolators makes those issues go away.”

A growing need

Lafferty told us that some contractors’ unwillingness to deal with HP products stems largely from old stigmas associated with workers using suits, rather than the safer isolator technology as found in the Nottingham facility.

He said issues like finding staff willing to work with toxic molecules, the extra investments associated with handling them, and even hesitance from sponsors who fear working in HP facilities have also led to a shortage of vendors.

However with a growing industry need for innovation, and many HP pipelines left untouched because companies cannot find suitable partners to manufacture products for their R&D (research and development), Lafferty said the need for providers has never been greater.

And with recent enquiries from all over the world within the past five months, Aesica predicts the gap in the market will only get bigger.

 “I do think this is a growing trend in the industry, but there are few places that offer the services. HP puts people off - it takes investment, and staff don’t want to work on it because of associated perception of danger,” he said.

He also said that for rare and orphan indications there is an opportunity for firms to work on the product commercially, as they need smaller – but higher value – batch sizes.

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