AstraZeneca said the sale of the northern France-based facility coincided with patent losses for some of its high-volume brands – such as cholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) – meaning the firm will under-utilise some of its manufacturing capacity.
In addition, the company said it is increasing its focus on developing specialised medicines, with lower volumes than traditional drugs.
“Specifically for the site in Reims, AstraZeneca Operations has been working with a specialist company since July 2016 to find divestment opportunities to credible buyers who can offer a sustainable future for the site, with a priority on maintaining employment,” the company said.
The Avara & AZ agreement
AstraZeneca told us it has signed a multi-year, multi-product agreement with Avara Pharmaceutical Services for packing and distribution services.
“Avara will continue to provide packing and distribution services for the products which are currently packed and distributed at the Reims site,” said AstraZeneca.
Further, the majority of AstraZeneca’s Reims-based employees will be transferred to Avara, with a small number opting for voluntary leave.
The Reims facility houses secondary solid dose form manufacturing (including granulation, blending, coating, compression and drying), packaging and distribution capabilities.
AstraZeneca makes packed products in bulk, including Crestor, Atacand, Inderal, Zestril and Tenormin, in the 2,200m² manufacturing space.
The firm told us the facility’s research and development (R&D) area covers 1,400m², and its packaging centre – which houses seven automated packing lines - covers 1,900m², and can process 1.5 bn oral solid dose tablets.
The site’s distribution centre includes cold chain storage, can house 4,900 pallets, and supplies all AstraZeneca products in France, North Africa and French Western Africa.