Last week, BASF officially opened a pharmaceutical grade omega-3 active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) facility on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland that it gained with the acquisition of Equateq earlier this year .
The ceremony – which saw BASF commit €22m to further develop the facility – was attended by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and various company execs.
Shane Starling, editor of our sister publication Nutraingredients.com, was also there despite inclement weather conditions that at one point threatened to scupper his journey to the Scottish island.
With this in mind in-Pharmatechnologist.com asked BASF how much of a challenge it is to operate a facility in the Outer Hebrides, why it was built there in the first place and how the firm will get omega-3 to pharma industry customers like Amarin.
Spokesman Andres-Christian Orthofer told us the facility has a long tradition on the Isle of Lewis and was originally set up in the mid-1980s when Equateq founder Adam Kelliher established it up as a production site of nutraceutical grade fatty acids.
In the decades since Equateq used chromatographic separation technologies in place at the facility to improve the purity of omega-3 fatty acids made there.
In 2008 the UK MHRA deemed the plant met with good manufacturing practices (GMP) standards, prompting Equateq to start exploring pharmaceutical applications for its ingredient.
The plant’s separation technologies and accreditation status were a driver for the BASF acquisition according to Orthofer who told us: “Today's cutting-edge production process is based on over 20 years of research and experience in omega-3 production on the Isle of Lewis.”
He also stressed that BASF will be able to get omega-3 to customers, explaining that: “Our global supply chain network and warehousing systems ensure that despite of weather conditions, the supply is secured to the site and to our customers” adding that “BASF has great experience in supply chain from and to more remote production sites.”
Orthofer also confirmed that BASF has made public its offer for Pronova a second omega-3 fatty acid producer and said that “Following a possible successful closing of the acquisition, a detailed integration plan will be developed. It is too early in the process to provide further specifics.”