European clients are currently supported by a R&D group but have been requesting Albemarle takes its local support to the next stage. In response Albemarle is building a lab for kilo and multi-kilo work, “creating an even closer and longer working relationship” with European clients.
“Our customers’ needs for a fast service, in local geographies, really made this step an imperative”, a company spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma. Previously Albemarle could only offer kilo lab services at sites in the US.
Expanding the service into Europe will ease communication, allow for direct collaboration and in turn help hasten the development process. Locating the lab in Belgium, which has “a logistically ideal position within the European Union (EU)”, further helps link Albemarle to its clients.
Furthermore, Louvain la Neuve is the location of Albemarle’s European headquarters and custom services R&D labs. Consequently, the site already has “infrastructure and technical talent that can easily be deployed to serve our customers’ kilo scale requirements”, said the spokesperson.
Work on the lab began earlier this year and is due to be operational in the third quarter of 2010. Albemarle’s fine chemistry services R&D group, consisting of five chemists and technicians, will staff the kilo lab. The lab will occupy 20 sq m within the existing site at Louvain la Neuve.
The kilo lab
Operating the new non-current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) site will allow Albemarle to scale up processes it has performed at lab scale to prove they are commercially viable.
A technology transfer can then shift the process to one of Albemarle’s commercial facilities with a high degree of confidence. “The lab is a true miniplant and can do reactions, distillations, filtrations and drying”, said the spokesperson. Equipment includes 50-litre glass lined vessels.
Albemarle will use the lab to make a few kilograms of a client’s new product for testing and customer sampling. Products will include very early stage active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for toxicology studies or advanced starting materials.
The lab will serve a number of industries, with pharma expected to account for half of its business. Albemarle works with a large number of pharma clients and has significant experience. This, coupled to international regulatory agency demands, will drive pharma business.