The investment was announced at InformexUSA in SanFrancisco, as part of a new "integration programme" to increase its global standing in the contract formulation arena. "Part of this investment will be used to fund future acquisitions within the US," a company spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. Nicholas Piramal currently relies on its facilities in Canada, India and in the UK to meet the US market demand, however, the company is finally planning to tackle the US market from within its own borders and is on the hunt for the a suitable US business to purchase. "The company is very serious about establishing itself in the US," said the spokesperson. The firm hopes this will edge it closer towards the top slot in the custom manufacturing sector. "Our strategy is to buy a more "niche" capability in the US, which would be more focused on early phase production," Michael Fernandes, head of custom manufacturing at Nicholas Piramal, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com in an earlier interview. "The objective is to have a more technology driven assets in the US. We are currently looking at different options and we expect to find a facility in the next 18 months." Meanwhile, some of the $50m will also be put towards expanding and upgrading existing facilities, including the addition of a new sterile supplies pilot plant in Mumbai that should be ready for production by the end of the year. Nicholas Piramal has already spent a similar amount over the last three years across its early phase (development) and late phase (manufacturing) formulation services in India and in the UK, including the acquisition of Avecia's Pharma custom synthesis business in December 2005 and of Pfizer's manufacturing facility in Morpeth, UK in June 2006. The company is now trying to differentiate itself by integrating all its capabilities and assets in India and Europe, thus becoming one of the only contract manufacturers that can offer the complete range of formulation services for drug production - from active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) pre-formulation services, formulation development for clinical trial manufacturing and scale-up to commercial manufacture in finished dosage forms, including injectables, solutions, capsules and tablets. "This sets a new and highly competitive benchmark for what CMOs can deliver under the heading of integrated services," said Fernandes. The firm said it will launch its fully integrated formulation capabilities to both existing and new pharma companies of all sizes in Europe and North America, via a series of roadshows scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2007.