According to AstraZeneca spokesman Andrew Higgins, the site in Macclesfield – about 20km south of Manchester – is the largest pharma production facility in the UK and the second biggest in the Anglo-Swedish firm’s global network.
While the site has been subject to major job cuts in the past, Higgins told in-Pharmatechnologist.com this investment is testament to AstraZeneca’s commitment to the facility which - with the construction of a new sterile manufacturing unit - puts the recent investment total close to £200m.
“We are constructing a new packaging unit, comprising of a hi-tech packing lines for tablets and capsules, and an automated warehouse facility on the site, as the old one needs replacing,” he said.
Higgins added the project was complex and would take until 2019 as the firm is ensuring there will be no disruptions to supply.
The project will create around 150 construction jobs, but once complete AstraZeneca's total headcount will not increase, he added.
The site makes a number of products in AstraZeneca’s small molecule portfolio, including the blockbuster drug Zoladex (goserelin) delivered by a subcutaneous injection of a solid state deposit that dissolves in the body over three months in patients with prostate cancer.
Despite the expiration of a number of the drug’s key patents, there are no generic versions and it still clocks in close to $1bn of sales yearly.
This is partly due to the complexity of the manufacturing process, according to Higgins, who further added “the unique production method would be very difficult to relocate [from Macclesfield].”
Such complexity has also been cited as a reason why the firm would never look to outsource production of the drug.