US-based Chesapeake's manufacturing facility in Kunshan, China has become the first pharmaceutical packaging plant in the nation to receive the PS9000:2001 certification. The certification signifies the plant has met the requirements laid down by the Pharmaceutical Quality Group of the Institute of Quality Assurance for producing printed pharmaceutical packaging. Chesapeake's facility opened in late 2007 and the company has worked quickly to get the plant up to an internationally recognised standard. The recognition of Chesapeake's facility in one of the world's fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets is good news for a company which - by its own admission - is facing a 'challenging' time. Its pharma division in particular is facing an increasing competitive environment. Andrew Kohut, Chesapeake's president and chief executive officer, said during the firm's annual shareholder meeting late last month that: "results for the first half of 2008 are expected to be significantly lower than 2007, [although] we anticipate improvement in the second half of the year." The company is running a webcast of its first-quarter results tomorrow. Commenting on the certification, Kohut said: "We take a consistent, common approach to quality throughout our global pharmaceutical packaging network. "As a result, we were able to share information and expertise, which helped our new Kunshan plant gain certification in a very timely manner." This rapid proliferation of skills and knowledge has allowed Chesapeake to quickly gain the certification which applies ISO 9001: 2000 and ISO 9004:2000 to pharmaceutical printed and contact packaging materials. The 36,000 sq ft Kunshan facility was set up by Chesapeake to house machinery for digital plate making, digital label printing, high-gloss varnishing, foil stamping and laminating. Chesapeake chose to site the plant in Kunshan as it already has a pharmaceutical plastic bottle manufacturing plant in the city. The creation of this Chinese hub gives Chesapeake a base from which to establish itself in the nation's market. Products from the two plants are sold within China and to multinationals. Demand within China for packaging that adheres to international standards is growing as the government tries to improve the nation's reputation with regards to quality. This focus by the government is expected to translate into impressive growth of the Chinese pharmaceutical packaging industry. A report by The Freedonia Group predicted China's pharmaceutical packaging would grow by 12.5 per cent a year between 2006 and 2009. In particular the market for anti-counterfeit packaging for products looks certain to rise, with those originating in China under scrutiny in light of the level of counterfeiting in the nation. Consequently, Chesapeake's position as an internationally certified manufacturer providing a complete packaging service within China could potentially reap dividends.