FOLLOWING a £100m investment in its Newcastle manufacturing plant a global pharmaceutical company has secured the right to supply the US market with a drug made on Tyneside – for the first time.
Sanofi-aventis, which employs more than 450 people at its site near the A1 at Fawdon, says the approval to supply Plavix to America – following a rigorous four-day inspection by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – is a “massive achievement”.
The plant is currently undergoing a £12m refurbishment of its packaging hall, bringing total investment in the facility over the last six years to £100m.
Scientists at the French-owned plant are currently undertaking trials on two new drugs and the spate of investment and research means site director Jacques Brom is confident of creating new jobs over the coming years.
He said: “This is the first time that Fawdon has been approved to produce medicines for the US and may pave the way for future product submissions to the FDA. It’s a great success for everyone at Fawdon and we are delighted.
“We’ve worked very hard to achieve this and it’s very pleasing to see that rewarded. This demonstrates Sanofi-aventis’ commitment to manufacturing in the UK and its attachment to Fawdon and North East.
“The FDA decision provides us with a springboard with which to take forward manufacturing at Fawdon and cement the facilities here as some of the most sophisticated in the world.”
Sanofi-aventis is a French-based company with about 100,000 employees in 100 countries. There has been a plant at Fawdon since 1957.
The facility was owned by Sterling Winthrop until it was taken over by its current owners in 1994
As well as Plavix – a blood thinning drug – the Tyneside plant manufactures many of Sanofi-aventis’ key products including Epilim and Solpadol.
The Fawdon plant currently manufactures 3.7 billion drugs a year and it will produce 600 million Plavix tablets for the US market in the first year of production. Sanofi-aventis also has a research facility employing 250 people at Alnwick.
Mr Brom added: “The investment we have undertaken means we now have in place the standards we need for the new markets we are aiming for.
“This US contract has opened new doors and we are currently working on two new products for the US market.
“It’s good news for the plant and it provides us with the opportunity to grow and create more jobs.”