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AstraZeneca invests €13m in Dunkirk plant

03 Sep 2015 | Health Nutrition, Investment

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca has seen a steep rise in demand for its star product Symbicort, and the group is investing in its Dunkirk plant—now a strategic priority

AstraZeneca - Health industry - Northern Frace

€13m investment underpins Symbicort’s growth

Since 1990, Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca has operated in Northern France, where its Dunkirk plant—the world’s sole producer of Symbicort inhalers—is now a strategic focus. Demand for this popular asthma treatment is on the rise: Symbicort sales jumped by over 30% from 2013 to 2014. To meet the challenge, AstraZeneca is investing €13 million to build a fourth assembly and packaging line.

“Our plant focuses on respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which affect some 600 million people around the world,” says plant manager Dominique Bretaudeau. Nearly 100% of the plant’s total sales are generated outside France, with 90% of Symbicort inhalers sold in the US and the remaining 10% in South America, Switzerland, Asia-Pacific and South Africa.

Today AstraZeneca is focusing all of its energy on the market for respiratory ailments, estimated at over $50 billion in 2022, and aims to triple sales by 20205. “Sales will rise around 5 to 10% in 2015, with corresponding growth in profits,” says the plant manager.

New devices, new products

AstraZeneca’s outlays in Dunkirk will also go to expand existing laboratories, launch new products and develop new inhalers. “We’ll need to identify new molecules and bring out new, even more effective delivery devices,” says Mr. Bretaudeau. “This explains our 2013 acquisition of US medical start-up Pearl Therapeutics, the company that developed the new molecules now being tested for production in Dunkirk.” Pearl’s products use new co-suspension formulation technology to improve delivery of active principles to the lungs.

AstraZeneca Dunkirk is also developing an inhaler that works without user activation. “Each research project is incredibly labor-intensive,” says the plant manager. “For example, our current new product represents a seven-year effort if you include research, compliance with regulatory procedures and ramping up for full-scale production.”


Source: La Voix du Nord, le Journal des Entreprises

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