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Chemspec Action in Amsterdam

Specialties exhibition highlights pharma strategies of chemical firms

by Rick Mullin
June 28, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 26

Credit: Photodisc
Amsterdam hosted ChemSpec, which attracted about 350 exhibitors.
Credit: Photodisc
Amsterdam hosted ChemSpec, which attracted about 350 exhibitors.

Exhibitors at ChemSpec Europe last week outlined new programs to boost fine and custom chemicals businesses targeting the pharmaceutical industry. Expansions of specialized manufacturing capabilities, investments in new current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP)-certified facilities, and one significant acquisition were announced.

Sigma-Aldrich revealed at the exhibit that it has acquired Tetrionics, a pharmaceutical chemical firm in Madison, Wis., with estimated annual sales of $15 million. Earlier this year, Sigma acquired Ultrafine, a U.K.-based drug development firm specializing in early-phase cGMP production. Tetrionics specializes in cytotoxic compounds, a significant gap in Sigma-Aldrich’s portfolio until now, according to Edward O. Roullard, the firm’s director of fine chemicals for Europe.

SNPE’s Isochem unit announced a new contract with Altana for commercial-scale manufacture of pantoprazole, the active ingredient in the gastrointestinal drug Pantozol. The deal follows previous contracts for clinical trial volumes and initial scale-up. David Simonnet, new head of Isochem’s pharmaceutical business, said the follow-on business with Altana is a template for how the company wants to grow.

Several companies at ChemSpec said they are shifting to such a “full-service” contract-manufacturing model in the face of likely competition from China and India. The limiting factor for China, according to Hao Hong, president of Asymchem, is the lack of cGMP training. U.S.-based Asymchem recently completed a pilot plant in Tianjin, China, and will open a larger facility next year. Hong says the firm will have to train local workers to follow cGMP.

Other U.S. firms with Chinese connections are taking a step forward. Kingchem formed a fluorine chemistry joint venture with Fuxin Wanton, in Fuxin, China, two years ago and plans a cGMP manufacturing venture this year, according to Kingchem President Stephen Wang. The company is also establishing an R&D group in Shanghai.


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