An insatiable Asian appetite for cell biology products has made Fisher Scientific's cell-culture unit expand its Beijing facility, making it the first non-native business to offer large-scale liquid-media manufacturing in China.
The Chinese pharmaceutical market has been growing by more than ten per cent annually over the last ten years although several factors, including the weak protection of intellectual property, nontransparent drug approval procedures and a local preference for traditional medicines, have limited its potential, leaving the heavily populated country with only 1.5 per cent of the global drug market.
Nevertheless, as the Chinese government moves to implement GMP standards and improve regulations and foreign access, experts see the $10bn (€8.4bn) domestic drug market picking up pace, becoming the world's eight largest by 2008.
HyClone, Fisher's business unit for cell-culture products and bioprocessing systems for life-science research and protein-based drug production, has had a presence in the country since 1997 and is now targeting not just the Chinese market but other countries in the region such as South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and India.
The opening of the new liquid-media production area at the 28,750-square-foot Beijing facility adds to the existing sales and marketing offices, clean rooms for the repackaging of bulk powdered media and quality-control laboratories.
The site, which opened in January 2005 with the launch of a powdered-media repackaging and sales operation, will now also supply cell culture products under cGMP standards with the ability to adapt formulations for Chinese academic and industrial customers at rapid turnaround times.
"These are new operations and do not replace existing units," Marc Strijbos, president of China for Fisher Scientific, told In-Pharmatechnologist.com.
"The strong market growth in Asia supports adding capacity. The biotech market and, in particular, the cell-culture market is growing rapidly, supporting advances in human healthcare and veterinarian medicine."
The firm expects the products to be used in cell-culture laboratories, working in areas such as virology, biotechnology research, pharmaceutical drug development, and large-scale mammalian cell-culture applications, such as vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and therapeutics.
"Our liquid-media production facility enables us to address the growing needs of the Chinese research and industrial biotechnology markets," Strijbos added.
"It also provides us with the opportunity to export liquid-media products to the Asia region."
Earlier this month, Fisher reported its fourth-quarter profits more than doubled to $117.2m from $51m a year ago, helped by acquisitions and increased sales of its scientific research and health care products.
The company now expects revenue growth of 8 per cent to 10 per cent in 2006.