The expansion is primarily designed to boost production of prefilled syringes for the low molecular-weight heparin product Lovenox, demand for which is growing at around 13 per cent a year according to the French major.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony late last week, Sanofi CEO Christopher Viehbacher, said: “Le Trait is one of many examples of Sanofi-aventis’ desire to invest in France in order to be able to meet worldwide public health challenges.”
Viehbacher explained that over 90 per cent of the million syringes made at the facility each day are exported, with around 25 per cent being shipped to the US.
The investment has also expanded the range of vaccine production and manufacturing operations Sanofi can undertake at the plant.
While the facility already makes the seasonal influenza vaccine Vaxigrip in collaboration with the firm’s Sanofi Pasteur unit, starting later this month will begin packaging an infant meningitis for the Japanese market.
Additionally, Sanofi will begin making its intradermal influenza vaccine Intanza early next year.
The €87m ($127m) expansion includes new filling, inspection and syringe packaging lines as well as innovative, “operator-free” isolation technology to prevent contamination during manufacturing operations.
The “operator-free” approach is borrowed from safety and containment principles employed in the nuclear industry which, according to Sanofi, are being applied in a number of sectors, citing French carmaker Renault as an example.
The firm also highlighted the addition of electron beam (e-beam) sterilisation technology to the product filling lines installed at the facility, which it believes will offer a way of accelerating manufacture by reducing the time its takes to decontaminate components during the process.