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Novasep To Build Vietnam's First Sorbitol Plant

Vietnam: Custom pharmaceutical maker will team up with a local partner in response to a government push to promote drug industry

by Jean-François Tremblay
June 23, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 25

Custom pharmaceutical maker Novasep will team up with a local partner to build Vietnam’s first plant to manufacture the drug ingredient sorbitol. The project is coming together soon after Vietnam’s adoption of a new strategy to promote local production of pharmaceuticals.

Novasep will build the 20,000-metric-ton-per-year facility in Tay Ninh province, north of Ho Chi Minh City. Although the French firm is mostly a custom manufacturer of drug ingredients, its industrial biotech business unit sells process development services, single process units, and entire production lines to companies that make ingredients such as sorbitol and amino acids.

The new sorbitol facility will be owned and operated by Tay Ninh Chemical Industry, a joint venture of Vietnam National Chemical Group and Tay Ninh Sugar. Its output will be used to make stabilizing and moistening agents for drugs, foods, and cosmetics.

“This project is one of the first to emerge from Vietnam’s national development planning for pharmaceutical chemistry,” Novasep says. The plan, adopted in January, aims to cut costs and reduce the country’s dependence on imported drugs and drug ingredients. Vietnam imports nearly all its drug ingredients now; the policy aims for 20% local production.

Pharmaceutical prices are far higher in Vietnam than elsewhere, said a recent study by Decision Resources, a health care market research firm. But foreign manufacturers attempting to sell in Vietnam face a complex regulatory environment, weak intellectual property protection, and a regionally fragmented market, the study noted.


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