Tempered Optimism | February 4, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 5 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 5 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: February 4, 2008

Tempered Optimism

Firms at Informex trade show tout targeted investments in a competitive arena
Department: Business
Informex attendees were cautiously optimistic about the future of the fine chemicals industry.
Credit: Rick Mullin/C&EN
Informex attendees were cautiously optimistic about the future of the fine chemicals industry.
Credit: Rick Mullin/C&EN

INFORMEX, THE CUSTOM CHEMICALS trade show, returned to its roots in New Orleans last week, and attendees were treated to a hail of glitter and beads as the city began its weeklong Mardi Gras celebration. However, the buoyant mood in the streets couldn't completely carry over into the halls of the convention center, where fine chemicals companies were feeling only cautiously optimistic about the two- to three-year horizon for their industry.

The optimism stems from an overall healthier industry, where sales and profits are up, but there is some concern that a weaker drug pipeline leaves fewer projects to choose from, says James Bruno, director of the consulting firm Chemical & Pharmaceutical Solutions. "Pipelines are weak, which will hit us down the line," he notes.

Technology and adaptability will be critical to winning those projects, and companies attending Informex touted a range of small, targeted investments to better position themselves in a more competitive environment.

Nicholas Piramal India recently invested $270,000 to add a sixth suite for making high-potency substances at its Grangemouth, Scotland, facility. The suite, capable of making 50 kg of material annually, will be dedicated to the scale-up and manufacture of antibody-drug conjugates that are nearing commercialization.

The company also recently bolstered its injectables business through the $3.8 million purchase of Bangalore, India-based Healthline Private.

Cary, N.C.-based CiVentiChem is also investing in India. The company is spending between $7 million and $8 million, which it says is nearly half the price it would have cost in the U.S., to build a pilot plant at its Indus Biosciences subsidiary in Hyderabad, India. The company says it expects to eventually double the head count in Hyderabad to 100.

Meanwhile, Chennai, India-based Shasun Chemicals & Drugs is looking to complement its Indian and European operations with the addition of a process development facility in Piscataway, N.J. The first phase of the project, which will help support its North American customers with preclinical and clinical-stage projects, is expected to come on-line in April. The company says the investment will create nearly 50 jobs.

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