Earthquake proof API plants a must in Taiwan according to Scinopharm

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Earthquake proof building design iStock/joel-t
Earthquake proof building design iStock/joel-t
Most buildings in Taiwan are designed to withstand earthquakes according to Scinopharm, which told us such measures allowed its Tainan plant to survive a quake that felled a neighbouring tower block last week.

The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) firm confirmed its facility had not been damaged​ this morning, also telling us none of the 570 people employed at the site had been injured by Friday's quake.

A spokeswoman said: “All the buildings and factories in Tainan Science Park including ScinoPharm's meet the government building code of standard with earthquake-resistant design to withstand earthquakes which are likely to occur at our location​.”

She reiterated that manufacturing and distribution operations will continue as normal, telling us “the roads, public facilities and transportation in great Tainan area are safe and sound so our shipments function normally​.”

Sinopharm ships 99% of the drug actives it makes to Europe and is perhaps the best known API firm outside Taiwan.

However, the island is home to a number of API manufacturers, including: Syn Tech Chem and Pharm Co, which is also based in Tainan; and SCI pharmtech and Formosa Laboratories, which are both headquartered near Taoyuan.

All survived the quake unscathed according to the Scinopharm spokeswoman, who told us “As far as I know, no API companies have been affected by the earthquake​.”  

Construction questions

Taiwanese building codes appear to have worked with relatively few buildings suffering damage as a result of the quake.

The exception is the 17-storey Wei-guan Golden Dragon building in Tainan, which collapsed shortly after the quake struck on Friday. Rescue efforts are ongoing, but officials told Reuters​ the death toll could exceed 100.

Observers pointed to problems with the building’s design. Dr Carmen Solana, from the University of Portsmouth in the UK, said: "The devastation caused by an earthquake of magnitude 6.4, can only be attributed to inappropriate building design or the reaction of the ground to the seismic waves.

With the fast growth of cities in seismically active areas the planning and management for these events become vital​."

This was echoed by Scinopharm’s spokeswoman who said: “When you see the aerial images around Tainan, the rest of the buildings are standing. But this particular apartment complex is as damaged as it is due to its poor quality in design and construction​.”

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