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AstraZeneca building $285m biologics plant in Sweden

pharmafile | May 19, 2015 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Sales and Marketing AstraZeneca, Sweden, Södertälje, brett wells 

AstraZeneca is spending around $285 million on a new high-tech facility for manufacturing of biological medicines in Södertälje, Sweden.

The British drugmaker says the new plant will be focussed on filling and packaging of protein therapeutics, with the aim being to supply medicines for the clinical trial programmes conducted by AstraZeneca and MedImmune (AZ’s biologics R&D arm). 

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot says: “This is a strategically important investment for AstraZeneca to support the accelerating development of biotech medicines, which now make up around half of our pipeline. We expect to bring a significantly increased number of new specialty care medicines to patients in the coming years, driven in large part by biologics.

“This new plant will give us greater capacity and flexibility to handle clinical trials, and will also play an important role in our future commercial production.”

Södertälje is currently home to AstraZeneca’s largest tablets and capsules manufacturing facility and is also a launch platform site for the company, with capabilities on-site that allow large-scale production of new medicines. 

In locating the new plant in Södertälje it is hoping to combine its experience in biologics with the established culture of ‘operational excellence’ that exists within the Sweden operations unit. 

The $285 million move is the first phase of a potential three-part programme to expand AstraZeneca’s biologics manufacturing capabilities, and this new unit the firm says will align with further investments being made in its current biologics centres.

Jan-Olof Jacke who is the president of AstraZeneca Sweden, says: “Building what will be a world-class facility in this area is not only important to AstraZeneca but we believe it will also add value to the Swedish and Nordic life sciences sector by enhancing the skills base. 

“Södertälje will also be considered as the location for the next phases of our programme to expand our global biologics manufacturing capacity. In addition to our strong internal capabilities and the access to a highly skilled workforce within the life science sector, we are encouraged by signals from the Swedish Government regarding a competitive and supportive environment for business investment.” 

Subject to approvals by the local authorities the plant is said to create between 150 and 250 new roles at AstraZeneca by 2019. It is set to supply medicines from the end of 2018, and will deliver finished products for commercial use once fully operational by 2019. 

Brett Wells

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