The $12m project is further evidence of the Sigma-Aldrich company working to strengthen its presence in the ever-popular biologics arena. The funds will go towards two fully segregated state-of-the-art viral product manufacturing suites, which will make use of disposable bioreactor technologies and allow SAFC Pharma to increase its viral manufacturing to commercial-scale quantities. The new facilities will add 8,000 sq, ft in manufacturing space, with 100L batch production in stirred tank bioreactors and 1,000L batch manufacturing in disposable bioreactors, to the existing 44,000sq ft, facility. The additional capacity should be operational by the second half of 2009, and will also be Biosafety Level 2 compliant, allowing the manipulation of human pathogens. "The 2007 acquisition of Molecular Medicine Bioservices significantly enhanced SAFC Pharma's Biologics offer in viral product manufacturing, including novel vaccine and gene therapies," said SAFC Pharma's vice president of manufacturing, David Feldker. "This expansion will increase our Carlsbad site capabilities from clinical-scale to commercial-scale manufacturing." This is just the latest in a regular stream of capacity expansions and investments that SAFC have announced over the last year or so. In September 2007, not only did the company announce a $29m investment to expand manufacturing capacity for high-potency biologics at its site in Jerusalem, but also dedicated $10m to increase capacity at its Irish and Swiss plants. August saw the company's flagship high-potency active pharmaceutical ingredient (HPAPI) site in Wisconsin benefit from a £4.5m refit, with new equipment installed and a further capacity expansion, scheduled for completion during the first quarter of this year. SAFC's St Louis campus also got a financial boost back in May, with a $16m expansion in manufacturing capacity for biologics, also due to be complete during Q1 2008. Combine these expansions with a number of acquisitions in the biologics contract manufacturing space in recent years, and it is clear when SAFC thinks the market is heading.
SAFC is still on its expansion drive, with yet another multi-million dollar investment announced this week, this time at the company's niche biologics plant in Carlsbad, California.