Oncology pipeline drives Eisai's expansion

By Gregory Roumeliotis

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Research triangle park

Japan's fourth-largest pharmaceutical company, Eisai, has announced
plans for a new pharmaceutical production and formulation research
and development facility in North Carolina in anticipation of its
parenteral and intravenous oncology treatments.

The creation of the new $90m (€75m), approximately 65,000-square-foot, facility makes this the third time Eisai builds in Research Triangle Park (RTP).

The company first opened a manufacturing and research plant there in 1997 and then expanded it in 2001.

Pushing the latest expansion are a number of cancer drugs in Eisai's pipeline, with the most advanced being E7389 for the treatment of advanced, refractory breast cancer, currently in phase 2.

The drug mimics the active ingredient found in an obscure sea sponge and has been found to be effective in slowing and even reversing the spread of breast cancer.

At the moment the company has no cancer drugs in the market but is planning to use the new facility not just for R&D but also for the eventual manufacturing of its oncology drugs once they are approved.

The new plant will accommodate aseptic processing suites, laboratories and other support functions.

Furthermore, a separate $15m central utilities building is planned to supply power, steam, chilled water and compressed air to the existing operations and the new parenteral facility.

Groundbreaking is expected in the autumn and completion is anticipated in three years, with operations starting in 2009.

The new facilities will lead to 59 new jobs over the next three years and a total of 84 new jobs over the next five years.

"The new facility will be used for production and formulation R&D specifically for oncology products, as oncology has long been one of Eisai's therapeutic areas of focus,"​ Eisai spokeswoman Cathy Pollini told In-PharmaTechnologist.com​.

"We are hoping to have a seamless integration with our existing R&D facilities at RTP and also ensure the highest level of compliance as we strive to get our first oncology product in the market."

Eisai's existing 190,000-square-foot facility is devoted to manufacturing its $1bn-a-year Alzheimer's drug Aricept and $1.2bn-a-year acid pump inhibitor Aciphex tablets, as well as formulation research and development and manufacturing of compounds for use in clinical trials.

"We are delighted that Eisai continues to flourish in Research Triangle Park. Eisai is active in the RTP community and we welcome and support their growth initiatives,"​ Rick Weddle, president and CEO of RTP, said.

RTP is the largest research park in the world, home to over 100 research and development organizations such as GlaxoSmithKline, Diosynth Biotechnology and Biogen.

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