Pfizer opens new manufacturing chapter in Puerto Rico

By Gregory Roumeliotis

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Puerto rico Pfizer Pharmaceutical drug

Pfizer has sold a large manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico to
biopharmaceutical firm Abraxis for $32.5m (€25.4m), as it continues
to consolidate its manufacturing operations.

Abraxis will receive a 172,000-square-foot validated manufacturing facility in Cruce Davila, Puerto Rico, with capabilities of producing EU and US compliant injectable pharmaceuticals, as well as protein based biologics and metered dosed inhalers (MOIs).

The acquisition also includes a computer-controlled 90,000-square-foot active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) manufacturing plant, and two support facilities with quality assurance and laboratories, totaling 262,000 square feet.

Although Pfizer used the raw material division of the plant to make the API for its painkiller Celebrex (celecoxib), it made no use of its pharmaceuticals unit where injectables were made.

Many of those drugs had gone off-patent, so generic competition lowered their sales by as much as 80 to 90 per cent of their original revenue, making it commercially unattractive to continue production there.

The divestment leaves Pfizer with four manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico - in Arecibo, Caguas, Barceloneta and Vega Baja - most of which it inherited from Pharmacia and uses them to make solid-tablet drugs.

After its merger with Warner Lambert in 2000, Pfizer acquired Pharmacia for $60bn in 2003, becoming the largest drug manufacturer in the world.

"Over the past six years, we have combined three large manufacturers into one, so in many areas in our manufacturing operations we have ended up with more than one thing we do not need,"​ Pfizer spokesman Bryant Haskins told​.

"This is why in the last three years, we have been in the process of looking at all our manufacturing plants, moving products around and adjusting our capacity."

Abraxis will now lease the chemical raw material plant back to Pfizer at least for a year to continue the manufacturing of the active ingredient for Celebrex.

The overall manufacturing complex, which is expected to employ approximately 400 to 500 people when fully-operational, will provide a third manufacturing site for Abraxis to produce chemotherapeutics such as its breast cancer drug Abraxane for injectable suspension.

The deal makes Abraxis one of the broadest injectable manufacturers of sterile injectable pharmaceuticals in the industry with the ability to manufacture products in diverse dosage forms such as vials, bag-fill, pre-filled syringe, lyophilized, powder-fill, liquid-fill (aseptically filled and terminally sterilised) and MOIs for both the U.S. and European markets.

"The acquisition offers us the capability to make small molecules and MOIs, and also offers lower costs and an excellent skilled workforce for all our operations,"​ Abraxis spokeswoman Christine Cassiano told​.

"Abraxis does not outsource its manufacturing operations so this new site is an excellent facility upon which we can extend our production."

The Puerto Rican facility adds to Abraxis' manufacturing capacity in Melrose Park, Illinois, Grand Island, New York, and Barbengo, Switzerland, expanding its European and cGMP manufacturing capabilities.

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