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Novartis to invest in French plant

The Swiss life sciences group Novartis in Basel says it is to invest SFr136 million at its nearby Huningue site in Alsace, France, to produce revolutionary asthma and allergy treatment.

This content was published on January 14, 2000 - 14:18

The Swiss life sciences group Novartis in Basel says it is to invest SFr136 million at its nearby Huningue site in Alsace, France, to produce revolutionary asthma and allergy treatment.

A statement said the Board of Directors had approved the investment to develop the Novartis Biotechnology Centre. Construction and installation activities are underway and production is due to start in the middle of 2002. The project is expected to create about 100 new jobs.

"With a capacity of more than one ton of active substance per year, this plant will be one of the largest of its kind in the world. As regards infrastructure, Huningue is an ideal location because of the existing pharmaceutical production facilities and its close proximity to our Basel headquarters," said Andreas Rummelt, worldwide Head of Technical Operations at Novartis Pharma.

"This decision is a milestone on the road to launching an important innovative medicine that offers patients suffering from asthma and allergies a major therapeutic advance," said Jerry Karabelas, Head of Healthcare and CEO of Novartis Pharma. "The development of this site significantly reinforces the economic strength of the region," he added.

The active ingredient of the new drug (anti-IgE) is a monoclonal antibody, which is made with the latest biotechnology. It works by blocking immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE production, a key trigger in the initiation of the allergic cascade, is the first step in the hypersensitivity response that leads to the symptoms of allergy.

Filings for regulatory approval are scheduled for the first half of this year and initial market launches are expected in 2001.

The development of the product is a project between Novartis and the United States companies Tanox and Genentech. The latter will initially supply anti-IgE to enable the earliest possible launch of the product until the Huningue facility is fully operational and capable of meeting worldwide demand.

From staff and wire reports



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