Innovo insulin dose injection system. Courtesy of Novo Nordisk.
Novopen insulin injection system. Courtesy of Novo Nordisk.
Novomix Flexpen insulin injection system. Courtesy of Novo Nordisk.
Filled insulin cartridges produced at the Chartres facility. Courtesy of Novo Nordisk.
Molecular diagram of insulin crystals produced from x-ray crystallographic data. Courtesy of Novo Nordisk.

Danish company Novo Nordisk is upgrading the insulin production plant at its facility in Chartres, France.

The company is one of the largest producers of insulin products in the world and is responsible for more than one-third of all insulin production.

The Chartres plant has been producing insulin since 1959. The upgrade project is in response to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) projection of an increase in the number of diabetes cases expected by 2030. The WHO predicts an increase from 177 million cases in the present day to 370 million in 2030.

The new plant expansion will require an investment of €218m. The plant will be designed to increase the production capacity of insulin doses and the volume of production of the Novo Nordisk Flexpen, an injection-less pen dosage system that is claimed to make the management of diabetic medication easier.

The upgrade is in response to a WHO projection of an increase in the number of diabetes cases expected by 2030.”

The expansion will potentially be able to serve the whole European market and parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Previous upgrade work

The plant at Chartres was previously expanded in September 1996, which was inaugurated in Q4 1999. The total cost of this expansion was $64.3m and the insulin cartridge production was increased to 60 million per year. This further plant expansion began in 2003.

Insulin cartridge production plant upgrade

The insulin production plant upgrade involves the addition of a filling line and two new assembly and packaging lines. This will double the production of insulin cartridge doses from 92 million per year at present to more than 180 million units at full production.

Production at Chartres has increased by 60% since 2005. Phase I of the expansion included the installation of a new Flexpen assembly area, was completed in September 2005.


A contract for the engineering and project management of the expansion at the Chartres plant has been awarded to Technip in conjunction with Novo Nordisk Engineering. The expansion is being carried out in two phases.

“Novo Nordisk is developing an inhalable form of insulin.”

The first phase was completely managed by Technip and included the revamp and expansion of the existing insulin filling line, a new assembly and packaging workshop for insulin injection pens and a new state-of-the-art central heating and climate control system.

The first phase, completed by the first half of 2005, was carried out by the Paris engineering centre of Technip. It required more than 70,000 engineering hours to complete within the timescale.

The second phase of the expansion is being managed by Technip and Novo Nordisk Engineering in a joint effort and will include the installation and validation of a new filling line for Penfill and two new assembly and packaging lines. The filling line, scheduled to be commissioned in 2011, will expand the plant’s capacity significantly.

Further insulin production plant products

The plant will be able to produce future Novo Nordisk’s products that are currently in development, including the NovoMix range of pre-mixed insulin analogues and Novo Rapid. The company has obtained European marketing approval for these products as diabetes treatments. Novo Rapid is a fast-acting drug, which allows users greater freedom.

Novo Nordisk is also developing an inhalable form of insulin in conjunction with Aradigm. The new drug form, NN-1998, will use Aradigm’s AERx delivery technology and is currently in pivotal Phase III clinical trials. This inhalable form of insulin will be an even greater step towards diabetic medication convenience and patient freedom.