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Sanofi invests in syringe production in France

Published on 16/12/09 at 10:04am

Sanofi-Aventis has doubled its capacity to manufacture syringe-delivered medicines with the opening of new production units at Le Trait, near Rouen in France.

The plant produces high-tech sterile injectable drugs and vaccines, primarily for export to the US and Japan, and Sanofi-Aventis has invested 87 million euros in the new capacity over the last three years. The investment programme has been one of the largest made at Le Trait site since the site was set up in the 1960s.

The production lines will include new filling, inspection and packaging systems enabling the Le Trait plant to double its production of prefilled syringes.

Key products made at the plant include low molecular weight heparin Lovenox (enoxaparin), which has seen 14% growth worldwide in the first nine months of 2009 to reach 2.29 billion euros, and vaccines.

Vaccines in particular are a key area for Sanofi-Aventis, particularly as it targets growth in emerging markets, and the sector accounts for around 14% of total group sales. Over the last 10 years the global vaccine market has tripled in value to reach more than $17 billion, according to the World Health Organisation.

The Le Trait site will diversify Sanofi-Aventis' vaccine production, in partnership with the group's vaccine unit Sanofi Pasteur.  It already produces the seasonal flu vaccine Vaxigrip and from this month will add the packaging of an infant meningitis vaccine for the Japanese market. In addition, production of the intradermal flu vaccine Intanza will start early in 2010.

"A cutting-edge technological platform, the Le Trait site produces one million syringes a day and exports close to 90% of its production, 25% of which are for the North American market," said Sanofi-Aventis chief executive Christopher Viehbacher.

Sanofi-Aventis says the new filling lines will enable it to "optimise" the quality of the medicines manufactured on the site, through electron beam (e-beam) sterilisation technology, which it says ensures very fast decontamination of components.

The company is planning a live webcast on its vaccines business on 17 December.


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