Alcan Packaging Shelbyville, located in Kentucky, is the only North American facility in the packaging industry dedicated to pharmaceutical flexible packaging materials, the firm said.
Indeed the demand for these types of products - and in particular high visibility packaging - in the pharmaceutical market is projected to expand substantially in the next few years, driven by expanding usage of blister packs as a result of FDA regulations favouring unit dose packaging, according to a recent report.
"This investment demonstrates Alcan's ongoing effort to anticipate its customers' expanding needs and to deliver the highest value added products and services," said Michael Rubenstein, president of Alcan Global Pharmaceutical Packaging.
"This expansion will provide additional capacity that will meet the projected growth in the North American pharmaceutical packaging industry over the coming years."
Alcan has chosen to focus on a lucrative market as just in the US, the market for pharmaceutical packaging is expected to grow by nearly a third between 2004 and 2011, driven by the increasing demands placed on packaging by biologic drugs and novel drug delivery formulations, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan (F&S).
Recently published data suggests that the market will swell from $2.6bn in 2004 to just under $3.4 billion in 2011 as the role of pharmaceutical packaging shifts from a passive to an active one, making a contribution to effective drug delivery.
The company said that the new expansion, expected to be fully operational in February 2008, will include the installation of a laminator, eight colour gravure printing press, slitter, clean room, finishing/packing complex, warehouse facility and cure room, creating between 40 and 50 new jobs. The site presently employs approximately 150 people.
This latest investment comes weeks after the Canadian firm sold its New Jersey-based lab equipment business to private equity company River Associates Investments in order to focus on its packaging division.