Novartis expands on Rasilez news

By Anna Lewcock

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Hypertension

24 hours after announcing EU approval of its hypertension drug
Rasilez (aliskiren), Novartis has unveiled plans for a major
expansion to production facilities in Switzerland.

The company will invest CHF300m (€183m) to revamp the plant in Schweizerhalle near Basle in Switzerland, to up production capacity for a number of its key high blood pressure medicines, including the newly approved Rasilez. Top-seller Diovan (valsartan) is also manufactured at the site, with production capacity for the drug due to increase by 60 tons a year thanks to the expansion and allowing the company to meet growing worldwide demand for the treatment. The main driver for investment in the site however, is the future demand the company sees for newly approved drug Rasilez. Given the go-ahead in the US in March under the brand name Tekturna, Rasilez is the first new type of hypertension drug to be approved in over a decade according to Novartis, and is set to play a major role in the company's portfolio. A once-daily oral tablet therapy, Rasilez acts by targeting renin, an enzyme responsible for triggering a process that can contribute to high blood pressure. It is the very first drug to be approved in this new class of renin inhibitors. The capacity expansion at the Swiss site is intended to allow the company to meet the expected demand for Rasilez, which the company touts as the only innovative treatment for high blood pressure to have emerged in the last ten years. Schweizerhalle is one of nine Novartis sites in the country, with the new investment in the manufacturing plant presented as evidence of the importance of the region to the company's manufacturing activities. The Schweizerhalle plant has been the target of several cash injections by the company since it was opened in 1999. As well as this latest CHF300m investment, last year Novartis ploughed CHF75m into the site to fund the construction of a chemical manufacturing unit for active pharmaceutical ingredients, and in 2004 another CHF60m went towards expanding production capacity for Diovan. Diovan has played a starring role in Novartis' portfolio and helped push growth at the company. It continues to perform strongly, for example pulling in $2.4bn (€1.8bn) over the first half of this year. The drug has become the top branded hypertension medicine worldwide, and according to Novartis has the potential to become one of the industry's top five pharmaceuticals based on global annual sales. Growing demand for Exforge, a new single-tablet formulation of the two most commonly prescribed branded hypertension drugs Diovan and Pfizer's Norvasc (amlodipine besylate), was another factor that prompted expansion plans at Schweizerhalle where the drug is manufactured. Alongside Rasilez, Diovan and Exforge, the Schweizerhalle plant is also home to production of breast cancer drug Femara (letrozole), Miacalcic (salmon calcitonin) for osteoporosis and acromegaly treatment Sandostatin (octreotide).

Related topics Ingredients

Related news

Show more