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Pfizer inaugurates new $214m Swedish biotech plant

By Gareth Macdonald, 26-Aug-2009

Related topics: Regulatory & Safety, Globalisation, Lifecycle management

Pfizer’s new $214.8 million (€150m) biotechnology facility in Strangnas, Sweden was inaugurated yesterday, securing the country’s future in the company’s manufacturing network according to global manufacturing president Natale Ricciardi.

The new 6,000 sqm plant will be used to make active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for Pfizer’s human growth hormone (HGH) drugs Somavert (pegvisomant) and Genotropin (somatropin [rDNA origin]) when fully operational in 2011.

A key focus of the plant will be growth of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli) and yeast for the production of recombinant proteins, installing capacity that the US drug giant believes will accelerate the introduction of new drugs in the future.

However, Pfizer also stressed that the facility, which has been under construction since 2007 , was designed with flexibility in mind, explaining that the production of multiple biotechnology drugs is an option.

Swedish biotech

Genotropin, one of the best selling HGH drugs, was bought by Pfizer in 2003 through its acquisition of Pharmacia in a deal that included the Swedish biotech group’s existing Strangnas manufacturing unit.

That facility, which makes the anticlotting drug Fragmin (heparin), will be “connected” to the new plant in an approach the Pfizer said: “gives advantages in terms of materials and personnel flows.”

Ricciardi explained the decision to invest in Strangnas was based on the existing expertise and experience available in the country, and added that “Sweden will have a continued role in Pfizer’s global manufacturing network.”

Her comments will be reassuring for the local biotech manufacturing sector, which employs over 500 people, given the recent rapid growth of the industry in Asia in hubs like China, Singapore and India.

Pays Venezuela $17m; US pharmacies try to block Wyeth deal

According to a number of reports, Pfizer has paid the $17m in back taxes to the Venezuelan tax authorities, after government threats to take control of the company’s manufacturing plants in the country.

Company spokesperson told the e-Taiwan News that the payment had been made, explaining that it follows a standard review of Pfizer's acquisition of pharmaceutical companies, including the 2003 purchase of Pharmacia.

Also, seven Californian pharmacies have sued to block Pfizer’s planned $68m acquisition of Wyeth on the basis that it will drive up drug prices, according to Bloomberg.

A company spokesperson told the newswire that Pfizer has not yet been served with the lawsuit and believes that it is without merit.