Ricochet News

Aspen Pharmacare unveils new R1 billion facility in Port Elizabeth

By Afikile Lugunya - May 7, 2018
Aspen Pharmacare unveils new R1 billion facility in Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth-based Aspen Pharmacare, South Africa’s largest pharmaceutical company, officially opened a R1 billion Port Elizabeth-based high containment facility on Monday.

The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies; Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Sakhumzi Somyo; Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive.

According to Aspen, the facility is designed for manufacturing products with low occupational exposure limits. It is also one of six production facilities located at Aspen's flagship pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Port Elizabeth.

“Aspen continues its evolution into a global specialty manufacturer of niche products requiring complex technologies. The high potency manufacturing facility we are opening today represents such complex technologies, providing Aspen with the opportunity to expand it exports with products which are used for rare indications," said Saad. 

"Initial production in this facility is planned for Alkeran, Leukeran and Purinethol (treatment of late stage cancers), Imuran (prevention of organ tissue rejection in liver and kidney transplants as well as treatment of certain autoimmune diseases) and Benztropine (treatment of Parkinson’s disease).”

He added, “The commissioning of this facility further cements Aspen’s position as the largest private investor in the South African pharmaceutical industry, with its current manufacturing operations constituting a significant portion of the installed pharmaceutical volume capacity in our country.

"Aspen’s ongoing investment in its South African manufacturing sites bolsters the introduction of new technologies, the addition of skilled employment opportunities and the enhancement of our country’s export capability.”

MEC Somyo, who introduced Minister Davies, said that he was much pleased with the facility because it would make lives easier.

Officiating at the opening, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, said the investment will significantly strengthen our country’s capacity as a manufacturer of quality pharmaceutical products.

“Aspen’s expansion into the High Potency Facility will enable the manufacture of products not previously produced locally and also add to the export capacity of Aspen contributing to the overall growth of the pharmaceutical sector and will potentially have a positive impact on lowering the current trade deficit within this sector,” said Davies.

Minister Davies added that the facility will further enhance both South Africa and Aspen’s status in terms of regional and continental trade.

“Aspen is a leading global producer of regulated hormonal products and a leader in infant nutrition products in select emerging markets. With this new facility, it is anticipated that around 95% of these new products are to be exported with target markets in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa with the first exports expected to Europe as the first regulatory approvals were from Europe.

"The new high potency manufacture facility will provide Aspen with niche-type capability to offer the market specialised therapeutics and increase its footprint within the global pharmaceutical environment,” said Minister Davies.

Aspen’s operations in the Eastern Cape employ over 2 500 people of which 2 000 are at the Port Elizabeth site with more than 90% of these employees being recruited from local communities. The high containment facility, together with the new sterile facility being built at the same site, will provide for some 500 additional jobs.

In order to ensure world class training capabilities in its employees, Aspen is in the process of establishing a Training Academy. The intention is to give Aspen employees the opportunity to attain national accredited qualifications in pharmaceutical manufacture.

The 23,000m² facility has been audited by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and the German regulator, Landesamt für soziale Dienste des Landes Schleswig-Holstein (LAsD) both of which have granted the requested approval.

At full capacity, the high containment facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 billion tablets annually and package some three million bottles per month.

Executive Mayor Trollip also highlighted that the new facility is a great socio-economic opportunity for the city and those, who will be employed.