Switzerland's Roche is planning to spend $155 million (€133m) on a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) manufacturing centre at its Branchburg, New Jersey site.
The first phase of construction of the 285,000-square-foot facility is due to be completed in the second half of 2004, and it is scheduled to be fully operational by 2006. The facility will include a one-story manufacturing facility, a short-term warehousing area, a packaging area and a utility area. A two-story office building will be connected to house manufacturing operations personnel.
Heino von Prondzynski, head of the diagnostics division at Roche, said: "the increased capacity of the new facility will allow for the anticipated growth especially for the blood screening and women's health product areas."
Roche Molecular Systems, the division that develops and markets the group's PCR products, posted sales of nearly SF 1 billion (€) in 2002, a 19 per cent rise on the previous year. The division's head, Heiner Dreismann, noted that the new facility would allow the company to consolidate all functions currently operating in New Jersey (Belleville, Totowa and Branchburg) to one location.
Roche recently won the latest round in an ongoing lawsuit over the rights to the Taq DNA polymerase enzyme, an integral part of the PCR technology that is used in clinical diagnostics and biological research, and the decision to implement such a major investment programme in its PCR technology may reflect a strengthening confidence in its proprietary position in the nucleic acid testing market.
However, a fresh legal challenge in the PCR sector emerged yesterday from Applied Biosystems, which licenses some of Roche's PCR technologies for distribution to researchers.