Hospira bucks Australian generics downturn with $14m investment

By Dan Stanton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hospira bucks Australian generics downturn with $14m investment

Related tags: Australia

Hospira has invested 15m AUD ($14m) in a Victoria injectables plant it says will continue to make drugs for export despite the economic downturn and strong Australian dollar.

The facility, in Mulgrave about 10km southeast of Melbourne, manufactures cancer drugs and other specialty injectables for both the local and international market. This investment will add a new filling line set to be operational in March next year.

During a visit today by Australia’s Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, the plants VP of operations Andrew Hodder said Hospira is the largest supplier, by volume, of injectable generics in Australia and “is bucking the manufacturing trend”​ in the country with continual expansions such as this filling line.

Hospira spokesman Ken Griffin told in-Pharmatechnologist.com Victoria, the state in which the Mulgrave site is located, has been hit particularly hard by a manufacturing down turn and events such as the entire car industry closing down​ have had repercussions across the drug world.  

“Australian generic medicines manufacturers are being impacted by a domestic medicines pricing policy which drives rapid price cuts to publicly funded medicines. In some cases this has seen the price of some medicines reduced by over 90% in the space of several years,” ​he said.

“Coupled with the high Australian dollar and high cost compared to other global locations, the Australian environment has been particularly challenging.”

However, “not only is Hospira still in Victoria, it is investing 15 million in its site to increase its competitiveness and increase its export profile,” ​he continued.

Hospira’s response to the economic conditions has not all been good news with 34 staff members of the site’s 600-strong workforce losing their jobs in April this year. “This was part of a process to increase the efficiency of our operations which meant the closure of a filling room,”​ Griffen told us.

Medicines Manufacturing Taskforce

Hospira is a member of Australia’s Generic Medicines Industry Association (GMiA) which is spearheading a campaign to bring together pharma firms with the Departments of Industry, Health and Trade to identifying opportunities and address barriers in the Australian drugmaking industry.

This Medicines Manufacturing Taskforce (MMT) “would allow the Australian government to review the issue of medicines manufacturing from the perspective of health, industry and trade policies,” ​Griffen said.

“The country recognises that medicines manufacturing is a valuable industry but this is not reflected in all policies implemented by these departments [and] the Taskforce would review the policy settings required to ensure a successful world class medicines manufacturing industry in Australia.”

Earlier this year, German-owned medicinal product firm Fresenius Kabi invested $47m in a new plant in Melbourne, while in 2013 Mumbai-based firm Cipla​ announced Victoria would be home to its first regional office outside India. The state of Queensland also received a boost with DSM Biologics – now merged with Patheon to form DPx Holdings - opening Australia’s first contract biomanufacturing facility last year​.

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