In June 2015, biopharmaceutical company Green Cross Biotherapeutics (GCBT) broke ground on the construction of Canada’s first intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and albumin manufacturing plant in Montreal, Quebec.
The facility is one of the most significant greenfield investments in the Canadian biopharmaceutical industry. It is part of GCBT’s global expansion strategy and will serve as the group’s North American headquarters. It is also the first project set up through the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
The plant was completed in the third quarter of 2016 and inaugurated in October 2017. It will become Canada’s only facility for manufacturing plasma-derivative products, IVIG and albumin on starting commercial production in 2020.
It will supply or export therapeutic plasma-derived products to local and international markets, including the US and China, while also establishing a stable local source for Canadian customers.
Héma-Québec, a non-profit organisation that manages the supply of blood in Quebec, has agreed to purchase IVIG products manufactured by GCBT’s plant for five years after the plant begins production.
Green Cross Biotherapeutics’ manufacturing plant location and benefits
Green Cross Biotherapeutics’ manufacturing facility was built in the Saint-Laurent campus of Montreal Technoparc, an industrial park in Montreal.
The Saint-Laurent campus is a science park with more than 90 technology companies and facilitates the emergence of new companies.
More than 5,620 people are currently employed at the campus. GCBT’s facility has added 200 jobs, including qualified engineers, scientists, microbiologists and other professionals for the production and distribution of products.
Details of the IVIG and albumin manufacturing plant in Montreal
The plant marks the beginning of Project Oasis, GCBT’s plan to expand its business to North America and Europe. It is intended to become the leading project by serving as a North American hub for the production and distribution of various therapeutic products from the company.
A conceptual design for the plant was completed in January 2015 and the basic design was prepared by April 2015.
The plant has a 225,000ft² gross floor area built on a 700,000ft² plot. It is built in line with US and Canadian current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) and equipped with innovative and technologically advanced process equipment.
The plasma fractionation facility features state-of-the-art filling and packaging areas to produce final bulk products for commercial use.
Products at the Green Cross Biotherapeutics manufacturing plant
McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and its Research Institute (RI-MUHC) inaugurated a research institute that had been jointly built at MUHC’s site in Glen, Montreal, in February 2015.
The plant will manufacture two plasma-derived products, including IVIG 5% and 10% and albumin 5%, 20% and 25%.
IVIG is a high-purity IgG manufactured from plasma derivate collected from individual donors. It’s a pivotal therapeutic solution for infectious and immune diseases.
Albumin is a hypoalbuminemia drug manufactured from normal plasma using the cold ethanol plasma fractionation method. It is used in the treatment of burns and as a blood-volumising agent.
Green Cross Biotherapeutics will manufacture albumin 5%, 20% and 25% for Canada, US and China from 2020.
Production capacity of the facility
The plant has an initial production capacity of one million litres of plasma a year. This can be increased to up to two million litres a year without structural renovations.
At full capacity, it generates annual revenues of around $228m through its manufacturing products and a total sales turnover of more than $380m, including imported and distributed goods.
GCBT has signed a long-term supply agreement with Hema Quebec for fractionation services and supply of plasma protein products. Clinical trials are currently under progress, with commercial production anticipated in 2020.
Financing for GCBT’s plant in Montreal Technoparc
The total investment for the project is C$400m ($300m).
Investissement Québec, a joint-stock company that promotes investments in Quebec through financial assistance, provided a C$17m ($12.9m) loan for the project, as well as tax benefits of C$8m ($6m).
The Korean National Pension Service, a private equity fund, contributed C$70m ($53m) in equity.
The Quebec regional government provided a C$5m ($3.7m) loan through the ESSOR programme at Investissement Québec.
Marketing commentary on Green Cross Biotherapeutics
GC Pharma (previously Green Cross Corporation) established Green Cross Biotherapeutics in 2014 in a strategic move to expand its business into North America and Europe.
Based in Yongin, South Korea, the company provides safe and effective healthcare solutions and specialises in developing and manufacturing plasma derivatives, recombinant proteins, preventive vaccines and therapeutic antibodies.