Lab supply firm VWR expands into pharma hubs

Related tags Puerto rico Pharmacology

Laboratory equipment supplier VWR International - recently sold by
Germany's Merck KGaA - has expanded in Ireland and Puerto Rico,
both hotbeds of the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, via the
acquisition of local companies, writes Phil Taylor.

VWR, with annual sales running at around $3bn (€2.3bn), has just bought privately-held Advanced Instruments Sales and Service, a Puerto Rico-based supplier of a broad range of services, instrumentation, equipment, and consumables to the pharmaceutical, biochemical, and scientific markets.

The company said the acquisition would expand VWR's service and product portfolio within both Puerto Rico and continental US. 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies currently have facilities in Puerto Rico, and as many as 28,000 people are employed in the drug sector. The Caribbean island is also estimated to be the third-largest centre of US biotechnology manufacturing after California and Massachusetts.

Advanced Instruments Sales and Service consists of various units, including AQS Validation Group which provides pharmaceutical process and product validation, process optimisation, computer validation, auditing services, and cleaning method development. Other units include Adchem Pharma Operations, which offers integrated warehouse, materials management, logistics and laboratory services to the pharmaceutical industry, and the Caribbean Metrology Centre.

VWR said that it was also planning additional investment in the Puerto Rican marketplace, more than tripling the capacity of the general distribution warehouse, undertaking a significant expansion of the environmentally controlled hazardous chemical storage capabilities, and increasing capabilities within the metrology and technical laboratory services.

Carlos Rodriguez, currently president of Advanced Instruments, will lead the new combined organisation in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, VWR has just acquired Dublin-based AGB Scientific, a company focusing on laboratory equipment distribution and supply with an annual turnover of around €30 million. AGB Scientific​ is Ireland's largest supplier of laboratory instrumentation, equipment, consumables and expertise, and represents many of the world's major equipment manufacturers. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

Ireland continues to be a major focus of investment for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, with the country's drug sector achieving €35.7 billion in exports in 2003 and employing 24,000 people.

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