Lonza’s softgel interests wane with sale of two European sites

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Basel Tower, Switzerland - Lonza Corporate. ©Lonza
Basel Tower, Switzerland - Lonza Corporate. ©Lonza

Related tags: Lonza, NextPharma, capsules

Lonza is to sell off two European sites to NextPharma in a deal that gives the contract development and manufacturing firm facilities to work with lipid oral dosage forms for the nutrition and pharma markets.

The production sites in Ploermel in France and Edinburgh in the UK, employs around 260 and 130 permanent staff respectively and produces liquid-filled hard capsules (including Licaps) and softgels (including for high potent and hormonal products).

“NextPharma is an established and well-respected company, with extensive experience in oral and topical finished dosage forms,”​ comments Gordon Bates, President and Head of Small Molecules at Lonza. As such, it is the ideal buyer given the technologies available at the Ploermel and Edinburgh sites.

“We are confident that the capabilities and experience at the two sites are a complementary fit with NextPharma’s portfolio and that it is ideally placed to develop both to their full potential.

“Both our companies have a focus on people development and customers, and we will be working closely in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition for all if the project is concluded.”

Lipid capsule commitment

News of the sale all but confirms Lonza’s plans to distance the firm from its existing softgel interests although the Basel-based firm will continue to offer Licaps-based products (lipid capsules) from its Colmar-based site amongst others.

The company recently announced an investment of €79m (CHF85m) to expand capsule manufacturing capacity by 30bn capsules annually across eight sites.

The investment, made in October last year, will apply to its Capsules and Health Ingredients (CHI) Division that specialises in delivering a number of dosage forms to the health nutrition and biopharma industry.

Made over the two fiscal years of 2020 and 2021, the investment looks to boost CHI's current capsule production capacity by 15% boost across Lonza manufacturing sites

These include those located in Colmar (France), Bornem (Belgium), Greenwood (USA), Haryana (India), Jakarta (Indonesia), Puebla (Mexico), Sagamihara (Japan), and Suzhou, (China).

At the time, Lonza explained its reasoning behind this investment and the one made investment in 2019 that increased CHI's capacity by 10 billion capsules.

“The current industry trends are leading to an increased demand for capsules both in the nutritional supplements and pharmaceutical markets,” ​said Lonza. “Patients are seeking preventative treatments, while consumers want to support healthier lifestyles.

“The expansion underlines the strategic position of capsules within the broader nutrition industry and will also support production as CHI also introduces new dosage technologies such as Lipid Multi Particulates (LMP) technologies and several new time-release functional capsule solutions.”

NextPharma direction

Acquisition of the two manufacturing sites fits neatly into NextPharma’s plans, as the London-based firm currently offers contract services in oral and topical (including sterile ophthalmic) finished dosage forms.

NextPharma plans to develop its technology to eventually offer lipid based finished dosage forms (softgels and liquid-filled hard capsules) and New Chemical Entity development services to customers.

“At NextPharma, we are very excited at the prospect of adding these two new centres of excellence to our manufacturing network,”​ says Peter Burema, CEO of NextPharma.

“These technologies, combined with the know-how and expertise of the employees at both sites, would provide additional solutions for drug formulations which will benefit patients across the world.

“On behalf of NextPharma, I look forward to welcoming our future colleagues, and I am confident that together we will continue to further develop and grow NextPharma as a leading and well-respected European CDMO.”

The firm recently completed a €15m investment at its Goettingen site that is set to expand its existing capacity in manufacturing and packaging of oral solid dosage forms.

A chunk of the investment went on constructing a new 1,000 m² building that included production facilities for mixing, compression, film coating and granulation.

NextPharma said the investment had increased capacity at the site by 25%, equivalent to an increase in manufacturing and packaging capacity of approximately one billion tablets.

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