On 27 February 2009 Pfizer opened a new manufacturing facility at its Dalian site in Liaoning Province, northeast China. At the same time the company celebrated the 20th year of operations at Dalian, which first opened in 1989.
The 333,731m² plant was constructed for a total investment of $60.4m by China Construction Eighth Engineering Division (CCEED) and was the first GMP site in China, with the status awarded in 1997 by the China Certification Committee for Drugs.
Dalian has a wide-ranging manufacturing capacity and is able to produce and package all of the common dosage forms including capsules, tablets, sachets and aseptic powder injections.
The facility supplies drugs to Europe, Asia and Africa and the categories include anti-infectives, antifungal agents, cardiovascular drugs, nervous system drugs and arthritis drugs. It remains to be seen whether Pfizer will supply drugs produced in China for the US market.
Pfizer is still investing in the Chinese market, although the company seems to be cost cutting in a number of its plants across the world in the light of generic competition for its best-selling anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor in 2011, which produces $12bn a year or 25% of the company’s annual revenue.
The expansion, which amounts to a whole new manufacturing plant on the site, will triple the production capacity at Dalian for cephalosporin, an important antibiotic for the treatment of a number of bacterial infections. The number of cephalosporin vials produced at the plant will increase from 5 million units to 17 million units a year to meet the demands of the domestic and international markets.
The new sterile manufacturing areas will produce sealed vials of cephalosporin powder ready for reconstitution into an injectable form. The increase in production capacity required an investment by Pfizer of $6m, which underlines its confidence in the Chinese healthcare market and its new focus on Dalian being developed into one of its larger global manufacturing sites with continued investment.
Allan Gabor, regional president of North Asia, Emerging Market Business Unit of Pfizer, commented: “Even in the middle of this worldwide economic crisis, we see China as a key strategic partner … The Dalian site has GMP status and has also gained many other certificates. Therefore, it is easier to bring new products to China and to export to other countries.”
As well as opening the new facility, Pfizer has also been working with the Chinese authority to increase knowledge of the importance of drug safety and quality control.
Pfizer has made an effort to share its best practices in these important fields and is also supporting the Chinese efforts in promoting the high-quality supervision of pharmaceutical products, while increasing its healthcare system reform.
The new manufacturing plant and workshop have added 17,600ft² (1,634m²) of manufacturing floor space to the site. Construction began for the new facility in September 2007. The facility passed its GMP inspection in November 2008 and received its GMP certificate in early 2009.
More than 40 innovative Pfizer drugs have become available in the Chinese market and 13 additional new drugs are expected to be launched in the country by 2012. Pfizer has four manufacturing plants in China in Dalian, Suzhou and Wuxi. The company’s strategy includes expansion in China, increasing its distribution operations from the current 110 cities to over 650.