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Sunny Outlook At Informex

Fine Chemicals: Companies at custom chemicals trade show express optimism, reveal investments

by Rick Mullin
February 14, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 7

Credit: Ann Thayer/C&EN
Informex attendees arrived at the trade show full of high hopes.
Credit: Ann Thayer/C&EN
Informex attendees arrived at the trade show full of high hopes.

Fine and custom chemicals executives at the annual Informex conference in Charlotte, N.C., last week were sanguine about the year ahead, and several companies announced investments in areas including high-potency active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and final-dosage formulation. Still, persistent overcapacity across the sector continues to cloud forecasts.

Fabbrica Italiana Sintetici recently spent about $1.6 million on new lyophilization capacity at its main site in Vicenza, Italy, according to FIS’s General Manager Roger LaForce. Technology was transferred from a partner, Canada’s Delmar Chemicals. Thanks to healthy business in both custom APIs and generic drugs, FIS’s sales grew about 12% last year to $244 million, LaForce said.

Boehringer Ingelheim is building a high-containment finished-drug-services plant in Columbus, Ohio, that will produce liquids, solids, and tablets, according to Dennis Seagle, head of the firm’s pharma chemicals business. The company, which already conducts captive-use formulation at sites in Greece, Brazil, and Indonesia, will split capacity in Columbus between captive use and the merchant market, Seagle said.

Asia continues to win investment. Flamma, a Bergamo, Italy-based API manufacturer, has committed to a $4 million investment in China, said Kenneth N. Drew, Flamma’s director of U.S. sales and business development. Capacity at the company’s three-year-old advanced intermediates and chiral materials plant in Dalian will be more than doubled to 100 metric tons by the end of the year and then doubled again in 2012.

At its site in Dewas, India, Navin Fluorine plans to open a pharmaceutical-quality fluorine chemicals pilot plant this month, followed by a large-scale facility later this year. Some 30–35% of drug molecules in development contain fluorine, said Ashis Mukherjee, Navin’s director of contract manufacturing. He anticipates business with firms now reliant on Chinese suppliers.

Executives fretted that new capacity isn’t being offset by shutdowns. Johnson Matthey, for example, has more than doubled its controlled-substance capacity to 65,000 gal with its recent purchase of a Lonza facility in Conshohocken, Pa. The company, which operates a controlled-substance plant in West Deptford, N.J., sees steady growth in opiates, said Jennifer O’Sullivan, product manager for Johnson Matthey’s pharmaceutical materials division. Lonza had announced in 2010 that it would shut the plant down.



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