The privately-held company plans to construct two new units to produce finished anticancer drugs for the Japanese group Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals and the US biotechnology company Millennium. The contracts with the two firms will extend over five years.
Pierre Fabre said the investment was demanded by a new agreement it has signed with US drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb, in which the latter will sell the French firm's new anticancer agent Javlor (vinflunine) in North America and Asia. The drug is in Phase III testing for bladder cancer.
Expectations of the increase in capacity required for Javlor's worldwide roll-out, as well as the two new subcontracts, makes it essential to expand the injectable drugs production facilities at Pau, which currently produces 35 million units a year.
Alain Sainsot, industrial director of Pierre Fabre, said that the site was a rarity in France, in being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that sales linked to this production will increase from €25m to €37m.
Building will start in April with should complete early in 2007, according to Pierre Fabre. The active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for the contracted drugs will be supplied by Sumitomo and Millennium. Vinflunine will coninue to be manufactured in-house at Pierre Fabre's facilities in Gaillac and Toulouse.
The Pau site was set up in 1992 and makes some 20 injectable pharmaceuticals, of which a third are cancer treatments. Roughly a third of the plant's output is for Pierre Fabre's internal use, with the remainder destined for GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Biogen IDEC, AstraZeneca and Baxter.
The latest round of capacity expansion at Pierre Fabre follows a €26m investment in production of the antidepressant milnacipran at Castres last summer.