Last week, Patheon won a contract to make Pacira’s analgesic drug Exparel from its Swindon, UK, facility. Whilst a deal to make a drug is not an exceptional feat for a contract manufacturing organisation (CMO), the agreement was described as a “Strategic Co-Production Partnership” and according to Patheon is indicative of a switch of service offering at a site once earmarked for closure.
The deal with Pacira, Martyn Botterill - Executive Director and General Manager at Swindon – told Outsourcing-Pharma.com “exactly fits the model that is now laid out for the site which is to focus on specialty products in dedicated suites in partnership with our clients.”
Furthermore, he continued, “to partner in this manner, especially for products or processes in the niche and speciality area,” is “a beneficial model for both the client and Patheon” and is representative of at least the Swindon facility’s strategy going forward.
Botterill’s comments were reflected by Mike Lehmann, President of pharmaceutical development services (PDS) at Patheon’s new parent company, DPx, who - following the merger with DSM last month - told this publication strategic alliances would play an important area going forward for both Patheon and the CMO industry as a whole.
For Exparel, Patheon is constructing two dedicated manufacturing suites under the guidance and oversight of Pacira, who is also transferring its own drug delivery technology to the site.
In 2012 Patheon outlined a plan to sell the Swindon site as a going concern. Though a buyer did not emerge, the company began cutting back operations and reducing the workforce by up to 400 .
“As the strategy for the corporation has evolved so has the strategy for the Swindon site utilising the demonstrated strength in operating and managing projects such as specialty products in dedicated suites,” Botterill told us. “The partnership with Pacira is a key example of this strategic focus.”
However, whilst in the longer-term capabilities and the headcount on-site “will certainly grow,” Botterill said Swindon was still in the transition phase “and as such there will in the short term continue to be some headcount reduction.”
The areas affected include topical products and more traditional products, he said, with production being transferred to other sites including the Monza and Ferentino plants in Italy, and the Greenville, North Carolina plant acquired in the DSM deal.