Price of FMC cellulose skyrockets

By Katrina Megget

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cellulose, Fmc

FMC BioPolymer has been forced to raise the price of its
pharmaceutical grade cellulose by up to eight per cent to meet
market pressures.

The US-based supplier of microcrystalline cellulose and carrageenan, used in the pharmaceutical and food industries, announced it would be increasing the prices for its commodities from November 1, 2007. The product Avicel and related brands of microcrystalline cellulose and cellulose gel will see an increase in price of four to eight per cent, while the prices on FMC's carrageenan product line will increase by four to six per cent. Depending on the product line and business unit, increases will be applied to list process and as contracts permit, the company said in a statement. Cellulose, a structural polysaccharide, is used as a filler to bulk out tablets and capsules, while carrageenan, a sulphated polysaccharide extracted from red seaweeds, is also used as an excipient in pharmaceuticals. With market pressures as they were, FMC was no longer able to absorb the costs themselves, the company said. "The major drivers for this action are significant cost increases in raw materials, specifically pulp and seaweed, as well as energy costs that remain at near record high levels,"​ FMC BioPolymer commercial director Jerry Whelan said in a statement. "We continue to make ongoing investments to maintain the company's position as a global leader in quality, service and reliability for the food, personal care, and pharmaceutical industries. FMC also will continue to implement vigorous efficiency and cost reduction projects to keep future product price increases to a minimum." ​ The increase in price is not hugely unexpected. The company last year was said to be anticipating having to implement a price hike. In October 2005, FMC increased the prices of its excipients by five to 10 per cent which followed an April 2005 hike in price of it Avicel product range by up to seven per cent and the increase in price of carrageenan by up to eight per cent in February of that year. "Significant, sustained cost increases in energy, raw materials, and freight are the factors driving this action,"​ were cited by the company as the reasons for the increase. The increased price in cellulose could put a dampener on a new drug delivery system being developed using the polysaccharide. Developed by a team led by Dr Maren Roman of the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech​, the new generation drug delivery system uses cellulose nanocrystals. The nanocrystals are a suitable size to be carriers in drug delivery, and have many reactive functional groups on their surface to which drugs or targeting molecules could be attached. A benign material well tolerated by the body, cellulose is also a renewable resource.

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