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BASF unveils R&D realignment plan, citing drug excipients as important

By Gareth Macdonald , 29-Mar-2012
Last updated the 29-Mar-2012 at 15:46 GMT

BASF has announced plans to restructure its R&D operations, citing solubility enhancing excipients as an opportunity for growth.

The German chemicals giant said it will invest €1.7bn in R&D this year – an increase of €100m on last year – and realign its research teams into: Process Research & chemical engineering; Biological & Effect Systems Research; Advanced Materials & Systems Research; and plant technology.

In a press statement announcing the move BASF said: “The bioavailability of pharmaceutically active substances is a topic of growing importance because active substances are becoming more complex, often with an associated loss of solubility,” suggesting that excipients are a potential area for R&D investment.

This was further indicated by spokesman Andres-Christian Orthofer who told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “BASF is one of the few remaining manufacturers to conduct cutting-edge research and development in excipients. It is our goal to develop sustainable solutions for our customer’s daily challenges regardless whether related to dietary supplements, OTCs or prescription medicines.

He added that: “We believe that with our unique expertise in polymer chemistry and global market access BASF is well positioned to drive customer innovation hence contributing substantially to solve key industry problems.

Orthofer also hinted that the firm may invest in its manufacturing infrastructure, telling us that: “New technologies and additional capacities are part of this growth, of course depending on the individual market development.”  

Half of R&D outside Europe by 2020

Global expansion is also on BASF’s list of ambitions, with North and South America and Asia being regions in which it feels it can do more to expand its research presence.

Company research director Andreas Kreimeyer said: “By creating innovations in Asia for Asia, we want to grow with our customers. By 202 we want to double our research activities in Asia and the Americas and conduct 50 per cent of our R&D outside Europe.”

BASF has already begun building its R&D presence outside Europe – with its Innovation Campus in Shanghai – due to open at the end of the year – and the agricultural solutions development centre it is building in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park being just two of the examples.

And –while neither of these facilities will be focused on developing products for the pharmaceutical sector – they are both in drug development hubs, which must surely have been a factor in BASF’s choice of location.

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