Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk has announced plans for a significant expansion of its production facilities in China, expanding its capabilities to accommodate the increasing demand for its FlexPen, NovoPen and Penfill products.
The new plant will be built on Novo Nordisk's existing 40,000 sq metres site in Tianjin, Novo Nordisk's primary production base in the Asia Pacific region. The plant, which will supply both the domestic and export markets, will help meet the increasing Asian demand for Novo Nordisk's insulin products.
The expansion is to include a new assembly plant for Novo Nordisk's NovoPen 3 insulin pen as well as an expansion of current packaging facilities for Penfill insulin cartridges and FlexPen prefilled insulin pens.
FlexPen is Novo Nordisk's newest prefilled insulin pen, designed to administer the hormone to exact requirements. NovoPen 3 is Novo's other proprietary product and has become the most used insulin pen in the world. NovoPen 4 is currently under development and builds on the design of its predecessor. The Penfill is Novo Nordisk's brand name for the insulin cartridges used with NovoPen 3.
In commenting on the expansion, Lars Rebien Sørensen, president of Novo Nordisk said: "Our expansion in China reflects the Chinese market and is yet another sign of the internationalisation of our production base."
The plant is expected to be operational in 2006 and will create more than 100 new jobs in China.
The Chinese expansion closely mirrors the expansion of its insulin manufacturing facility in Kalundborg, Denmark, that will produce liraglutide, a potential new product for treating type 2 diabetes.
The company is spending DK 800 million (€107m) on the new plant, which is scheduled for completion in 2005 and will create about 100 new jobs in Kalundborg.
The investment follows the €218 million expansion of a plant to manufacture insulin in Chartres, France, one of the group's largest investments outside its home market.
Novo Nordisk's expansion into the Asian market is not the first time it has set foot within the territory. The company has enjoyed a successful relationship with China since 1994. The headquarters and R&D centre are located in Beijing while the production plant for packaging and quality control of insulin is located in Tianjin. Altogether, Novo Nordisk employs more than 570 people in China.
The incidence of diabetes has been rising at an alarming rate in recent years. There are currently around 150 million people with the disease worldwide, but this figure is expected to double over the next 25 years, far outstripping population growth, and ensuring a continuing strong demand for diabetes treatments.
The company recently launched a new product in its Norditropin range of human growth hormone (hGH) that simplifies the delivery of the drug to children with growing difficulties.
The company has applied a technology used in its insulin franchise to create a liquid hGH formulation available in a pen system. Norditropin NordiFlex (somatropin [rDNA] injection) is the first premixed, prefilled, multi-dose, disposable hGH pen, intended for the long-term treatment of children with growth failure due to inadequate secretion of endogenous growth hormone.