B-I expanding China plant, says: 'Industry still sore from scandals'

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

B-I expands manufacturing in Shanghai
B-I expands manufacturing in Shanghai

Related tags Boehringer ingelheim Manufacturing

In the wake of recent bribery scandals, Boehringer Ingelheim (B-I) has called for stricter regulations in China, as it plans to triple production at its Shanghai manufacturing site.

The Germany-headquartered company announced today it was to spend $70m (€96m) expanding its solid and liquid dose manufacturing plant and adding an R&D Centre of Competence in the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, Shanghai.

Spokesperson Heidrun Thoma told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that “the plant expansion will help establish an effective supply chain, improve product competitiveness and thus gain a bigger market share.”

The expansion will push employee numbers at the plant up to 350 and production of tablets and syrups is set to triple to over 220 million packages by 2018.

Furthermore, this will fuel the firm’s vision of making the plant “a launch site”​ in the company’s global operations network, Thoma added, securing “the supply of intermediates and APIs for B-I’s major products”​ as well as leading “innovation [with] more efficient and cleaner manufacturing processes.”

Trouble in China & Impact on Industry

The pharma industry’s presence in the country has been undermined over the last few months, after GlaxoSmithKline​ was investigated over reports it had bribed officials and doctors​. The scandal also led to several other firms being investigated, including AstraZeneca​ and Novartis​.

“All the negative impact is a challenge on the psychological side, for everyone in the industry,”​ Thoma told us. “The majority of the employees in our industry does an ethical job, and we don't think the whole industry should be blamed for a few people acting beyond the rules.”

“All the major multinational companies operating in China have very strong compliance departments. The issue now is how to enforce the rules and make sure people don't find loopholes to go around the regulations​.

“First, there has to be a set of strict regulations in the entire industry, and, second, employee training is also very important to make sure they follow the rules,”​ she said, stressing the importance of having a reporting mechanism within a company to ensure compliance departments remain worthwhile.

So far B-I - which has been operating in China since 1994 and recently formed a biomanufacturing joint venture​ with a local firm - is yet to have felt an impact from the scandals but Thoma said: “We may gradually feel it and then we'll be able to better assess the impact on the business side."

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