In 2011, AstraZeneca pledged $150m (€133m) to build a formulations and packaging manufacturing plant in Kaluga, about 150km southwest of Moscow, saying it wanted to be “in Russia, for Russia.”
Four years on, and with the investment now totalling $224m, the Anglo-Swedish Big Pharma firm has opened the site which – once fully operational in 2017 – will produce around 40 million packs and 850 million tablets for the local market.
According to the firm, this is the largest foreign investment seen in Russia in the construction of a new pharmaceutical facility, and in a statement CEO Pascal Soriot said:
“This opening builds on our investments in clinical research and scientific collaborations in this important country and serves to reinforce our long term commitment to Russia.
AstraZeneca is one of a number of Big Pharma firms investing in Russian plants in order to capitalise on the country’s Pharma 2020 programme which aims to reduce reliance on pharma imports and encourage local manufacture.
Pharma 2020 was launched by then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2011, who at a conference in Russia last month pushed for industry to rally behind the scheme in order for 90% of medicines taken in Russia to be made locally by 2018.
“As Pharma 2020 is focused on the development of an innovative pharmaceutical industry in Russia, establishing the facility contributes to improving access to socially important medicines for Russian patients,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson told in-Pharmatechnologist.
Earlier this year, Novo Nordisk opened its first facility in the country – a greenfield insulin plant also in the Kaluga region – while the country has also seen investments from GSK, Teva, and Novartis, all looking to access the Russian market.