Ons 29 maj / År 42 / Nr 1 2024

Pfizer’s Swedish biotech facility ready for more business

Through innovative process improvements Pfizer’s Swedish biotech production facility has, in collaboration with the company’s global operations, almost doubled its capacity. “Now we are ready to offer our manufacturing capacity to both internal and external customers as a contract manufacturing operation”, says plant manager Kirsti Gjellan.

Pfizer’s biotech facility has a long track record of pharmaceutical manufacturing. The site in Strängnäs is a state-of-the-art, highly automated biotechnology plant that uses an innovative platform technology. This provides the flexibility necessary to produce different products in the same facility.

Meeting the low-cost challenge
Pfizer has invested 1.5 billion SEK (around 200 million USD) in the new multi-product facility that opened in 2009. Using biotechnology, the plant manufactures active pharmaceutical ingredients for the treatment of growth hormone disorders. The manufacturing is based on microbial fermentation. The products include the growth hormone, and also a drug substance that prevents blood clots.
“Our major challenge is that our competitors are based in low-cost countries,” Gjellan says. “In order to be competitive we must continuously focus on improvements, increasing efficiency and being lean in everything we do. We need to use less capital per produced unit. The increased use of tenders in the health care sector increases the pressure on manufacturers to bring down the cost of goods. We have proved that we are competitive.”

Highly involved and motivated employees
All employees at the biotech facility are highly involved in the continuous improvement process. Everyone is motivated and committed − every day.
“In 2012 we implemented more than 24 improvements per person, which is world class in terms of improvement rate,” says Gjellan.
“By working together cross-functionally, we add value to the product flow and to our customers. This is our major success factor. We are already the leading biotech supplier in Sweden, but we aim to become world-leading. We constantly strive to improve what we do by being more agile, faster and more flexible, with the right quality at a competitive price – we believe that this will take us there.”

Sweden wants to stay at the forefront of biotech development
Sweden has a long tradition of innovations − from the adjustable wrench back in the 1890’s to today’s IT inventions. This is supported by reduced corporate tax and by the fact that it is easy to do business in Sweden. There is a low risk for natural disasters, good infrastructure, and high productivity, among other things.
“The fact that the Swedish government continues to invest money in research and development in the life science sector creates new opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry in Sweden. Pfizer is prepared and ready to make our manufacturing capacity and know-how available, contributing to the new, innovative biotech products resulting from this investment. Products that will bring more years to life and more life to the years,” concludes Kirsti Gjellan.