Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Australia is to invest an additional $20.2 million into its Sydney manufacturing operation to boost production of one of its key asthma medications.
The move follows growing demand for the medicine from China.
Currently medicines earn the Australian economy $3.8 billion in export revenue and the sector employs over 13,000 people. There is potential for those figures to grow significantly in coming years.
The extra investment at AstraZeneca will see capacity for the one asthma medicine alone boosted by an additional 81 per cent from 240 million units currently to 435 million units per year by 2015. The company currently exports $254 million of product, which will rise to $340 million by 2015.
The high-tech machinery, which can produce 65 million units a year, will be custom built in Melbourne to AstraZeneca’s design specifications. AstraZeneca’s manufacturing expansion began last year and is the result of a global sole supplier relationship AstraZeneca has with China and Japan. The company has already invested $80 million in the last 5 years to meet growing demand for its medicines.
Mark Fladrich, managing director of AstraZeneca Australia and New Zealand said in a statement, “We’ve been saying for some time that the country has a tremendous opportunity to get behind the Australian Medicines Industry as a sector. Our Industry is delivering $4 billion a year in exports, more than cars and wine exports, but we need policy stability in our commercial environment if we’re to sustain this growth. That is something we’ve lacked in the past few years, and something we’re looking for from the next government.”
“In an economic environment where the manufacturing environment is challenging, AstraZeneca is carrying the torch for high-end production. We are producing an Australian product on Australian built, specialist machinery which will benefit the wider Australian economy.”
The increased production also has the potential to benefit other manufacturers, as production involves a number of niche suppliers including plastic manufacturers and delivery companies.
In fact, AstraZeneca estimates that for every $1 of medicines they export the local economy will benefit by up to $1.20.
“We source as much plant equipment from local Australian providers as possible. We draw on local engineers and source quality professionals to run the lines once they are up and running,” Fladrich said.