Construction began on the plant in Tuas, Singapore in 2009 with Alcon – fully acquired by Novartis in 2010 – investing approximately S$200m ($160m) into the 330,000sq ft site in order to manufacture ophthalmic pharmaceutical products for the Asian market.
Though originally intended to commence commercial production in 2012, the plant opened its door yesterday with Roy Acosta, Area President of Alcon Asia-Pacific, citing the growing local demand for ophthalmic drugs.
“The need for quality eye care is increasing rapidly across Asia, as the population grows and ages,” he said. “With the opening of this new manufacturing facility, Alcon is making a strong investment in the future of our business in Asia, and ensuring that our innovative products are readily available to those who need them.”
According to Novartis, the facility will manufacture the drugs Systane, Travatan, Patanol, Tobradex and Vigamox, amongst other opthalmic products. "As the second largest division of Novartis, Alcon is the global leader in eye care, providing innovative products that enhance quality of life by helping people worldwide see better," the firm told us.
"Novartis was already a strong player in the ophthalmic industry with Lucentis at the time of the merger with Alcon," the firm continued. "The merger provided us with the leading share of voice across the entire continuum of eye care professionals and the ability to leverage Alcon brand trust across all three businesses."
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According to Costa, Alcon has 20 manufacturing plants worldwide with the Tuas plant becoming a second plant in Singapore for the firm, the first focused on contact lens manufacturing.
For the company overall Singapore has become a key location with Novartis currently building a $500m cell-culture based manufacturing facility next door to a solid dose plant.
"There are no true challenges in building further capacity in Singapore," the company told in-Pharmatechnologist.com. "Singapore’s robust biomedical presence and highly-skilled and knowledgeable workforce made it easy to choose Singapore as a new site. This has been a strategic decision to expand capacities for the growing need for quality eye care in Asia, as the population grows and ages."