GSK eyes emerging markets with $27m manufacturing tech investment

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

The expansion includes the introduction of the latest high speed ‘Blow-Fill-Seal’ machinery
The expansion includes the introduction of the latest high speed ‘Blow-Fill-Seal’ machinery

Related tags Asthma Investment Gsk

GSK Australia will invest about $27m (€22m) in manufacturing technology to expand its Boronia site in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. 

The expansion will include the introduction of the latest high speed ‘Blow-Fill-Seal’ machinery to advanced aseptic packing of sterile pharmaceutical liquids. The latest Blow-Fill-Seal machine will be dedicated for the manufacturing of Ventolin (salbutamol sulfate) nebules, a prescription medicine used to treat or prevent bronchospasm in people 4 years of age and older with reversible obstructive airway disease. The investment will allow the facility to meet increased demands from emerging markets such as China, Turkey and Brazil where patients look for low cost asthma treatments. 

Blow-Fill-Seal manufacturing has been a focal point for GSK’s Boronia facility for more than two decades and the new Blow-Fill-Seal machine is expected to become operational in Boronia in January 2016. 

A GSK spokeswoman told us that there will be no new staff added as a result of the latest investment. The Boronia site currently employs around 320 staff.

Larger Investments

Praised by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who met in Sydney recently for the G20 Leaders’ Summit, the new tech is one in a series of investments GSK has made to strengthen its manufacturing capabilities in both Australia and the UK.

These include a previous investment of $53m (€42m) in Boronia to advance the site’s Blow-Fill-Seal capability, new equipment across a number of sites in the UK and the establishment of two new UK-based facilities specifically focused at harnessing innovative technologies and supporting the business’s growing pipeline. 

The company spent $328m (£200m) on the two sites last year​ to add capacity to produce GSK’s respiratory device, the Relvar Ellipta Inhaler, as well as active ingredients and formulated drugs. The UK investments have helped to add more than 1,000 new jobs, the company said.
Geoff McDonald, VP and General Manager Pharmaceuticals, GSK Australia mentioned the company’s concentration on respiratory, adding, “Our focus and expertise in this area has allowed us tremendous insight into patient needs across the world. Investing in improved presentations and manufacturing innovation is just one way we can continue to address these​.” 

But GSK’s track record in emerging markets has been tenuous. Last year, the company pulled out of China after four GSK doctors were detained for bribing doctors​ to receive preferential treatment.
Gregor McNab, Regional Supply Chain Head Pharmaceuticals, added: ‘‘Cutting edge manufacturing technology plays a vital role for advancing global public health, particularly in emerging markets where affordability can be an issue. By applying the latest technology to our existing practices we can increase our efficiency, lower costs and improve access of our medicines to those who need them​.”

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