Pharmalucence production site targets Mass biotech

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New facility Capacity utilization Employment

Massachusetts-based Pharmalucence is constructing a 70,000 sq ft production facility to boost the contract manufacturing capacity it can offer local biotechs.

Pharmalucence produces and markets radiopharmaceuticals, using the excess capacity to provide contract manufacturing services to several clients. Constructing the new facility will give Pharmalucence the capacity and capabilities needed to expand its client portfolio.

Glenn Alto, CEO of Pharmalucence, told Outsourcing-Pharma that the new facility in Billerica, Massachusetts, US will be a modular construction. A fully isolated suite will be installed and an automated system will allow this to feed two lyophilisers.

Once this system is online Pharmalucence will install a second fully isolated suite, said Alto. This will be used to handle potent compounds and will feed another two lyophilisers. Alto said that the new lyophilisers are 50 per cent larger than the units installed at Pharmalucence’s current facility.

Pharmalucence plans to hire an additional 25 to 30 people when the site is fully operational. Currently the company employs 75 people at its leased facility in Bedford, Massachusetts, US.

Construction of the new facility is due to start soon and is expected to be fully operational by 2012. After production begins Pharmalucence will leave its leased facility. The old site has two filling suites and has been in operation for 20 years.

To fund construction of the new facility MassDevelopment issued a $20m (€16.8m) Recovery Zone Facility Bond on the company’s behalf. TD Bank purchased the bond. Alto said that the bond accounts for two thirds of total investment in the facility.

Occupying a niche

Alto said that there is a relatively unmet need for contract production of clinical trial materials and the facility is targeting this market. Pharmalucence produces and markets radiopharmaceuticals and consequently has experience of manufacturing small lots.

Manufacturing its own products helps Pharmalucence attract outsourcing business, said Alto, because potential clients are reassured by the in-house infrastructure, quality systems and understanding of their needs.

Furthermore, Alto said that operating at smaller scales makes Pharmalucence more competitive against contract manufacturers in emerging markets. “Offshoring might make sense for commercial scale production but not for small lots​”, said Alto.

Pharmalucence can also offer a number of soft benefits to offset any cost advantages offered by offshoring. Alto said outsourcing to a local contract manufacturer makes communication easier, reduces travel expenses and puts less strain on staff by eliminating overseas trips.

These issues are well understood at Pharmalucence because it has also been a user of contract manufacturing services, said Alto. The company decided to bring all production in-house after realising the soft benefits.

Pharmalucence believes it can offer services at competitive prices. Fully automating the facility reduces labour costs at a time when workers in emerging markets are requesting more money, said Alto. These factors reduce the difference in costs between western and emerging markets.

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