Central Glass enters EU API market via Girindus buy

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chemical synthesis, Chemical reaction

Japanese glass and chemical company Central Glass has found a swift
route into the contract manufacturing market for active
pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in Europe via the purchase of
Girindus' facility in Halle-Kuensebeck.

The deal is great news for the workers at the plant, who were facing redundancy at the start of the year but will now be retained by the new owner. Girindus put the facility on the block in January, saying that it had to bring an end to the "sustained period of losses​" at the company. It was €14m in the red in 2007, in part as a result of cancellations and postponement of contracts that left production capacity in Halle-Kuensebeck standing idle. That state of affairs led Girindus' majority shareholder, Belgian chemical giant Solvay, to waive some outstanding loans in an effort to relieve some of the pressure on the company. "With this acquisition we are building the foundation for entering the European market for the contract manufacturing of APIs​," commented Masamichi Maruta, managing director of Central Glass Germany GmbH. The Japanese firm gains access to process development, scale-up and current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) production of APIs, as well as other fine chemical products and all related analytical activities. Central Glass has been supplying fine chemical raw materials to the pharmaceutical industry since the 1970s, with a focus on fluorine chemistry at its plant in Ube. It also operates chemical research centres in Ube and Kawasaki. Although the company's chemical activities have experienced a contraction of late, fine chemicals are still showing growth, and this has prompted the firm to build its presence in the area. The Japanese firm supplies APIs such as the anaesthetic sevoflurane and antiulcerant lafutidine, as well as other bulk pharmaceuticals and intermediates. It has been progressively expanding into international markets in recent years, buying fluorochemistry specialist SynQuest of the US in 2002 and a third-share in Apollo Scientific of the UK a year later. The purchase of a major manufacturing facility in Germany marks a continuation of that strategy. Meanwhile, for Girindus the sale allows it to refocus its activities and in particular to focus on its oligonucleotides business, centred at its facility in Cincinnati, US, as well as some chemical synthesis activities at the same plant. The market for oligonucleotides has been growing quickly in recent years, driven by demand from researchers working in basic research, drug target screening and therapeutic development. Girindus' commercial edge in oligonucleotides comes from its development of a novel solution-phase approach for synthesising them that does not suffer from the drawbacks of older approaches, such as the unpredictable solubility characteristics of the intermediates used. These drawbacks led many companies to favour solid-phase synthesis, but this has the disadvantage of needing to separate the oligonucleotides from the solid-phase on which they are made, adding to the cost and complexity of manufacture. While the acquisition is good news for the staff at Halle-Kuensebeck, administrative staff at Girindus' office in Bensberg still face losing their jobs as part of the restructuring operation.

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