Drugs giant underlines commitment to UK site as new European venture unveiled

Sanofi's site at Haverhill Picture: RICHARD GROVES

Sanofi's site at Haverhill Picture: RICHARD GROVES - Credit: Archant

A pharmaceutical giant’s Suffolk site is set to play a key role a new 1bn euro (£838m) turnover European business focusing on the active ingredients in medicines.

Pharmaceuticals operations at Sanofi's Haverhill plant Picture: STEVE BRYANT

Pharmaceuticals operations at Sanofi's Haverhill plant Picture: STEVE BRYANT - Credit: Archant

Sanofi's Haverhill site is one of six API sites across Europe earmarked to be part of the new venture, which is aimed at reducing the continent's reliance on China and India for the products.

Other Sanofi sites involved are Brindisi (Italy), Frankfurt Chemistry (Germany), St Aubin les Elbeuf (France), Újpest (Hungary) and Vertolaye (France).

MORE - Pharma firm sheds UK jobs and moves part of operation to EU as Brexit loomsThe headquarters for the new standalone company - which would combine Sanofi's API commercial and development activities with its six European API production sites - will be in France.

The move has been welcomed by the Haverhill operation's boss, who believes it will help the Haverhill business to grow.

Jim Moretta, site head and general manager at Sanofi Haverhill Picture: CAROLE RAYNER

Jim Moretta, site head and general manager at Sanofi Haverhill Picture: CAROLE RAYNER - Credit: Archant

"Our facility here in Haverhill has incredible talent and global leading pharmaceutical manufacturing technology, and we believe its potential will be unlocked as part of the new company Sanofi plans to create," said site head and general manager Jim Moretta.

Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) are the "essential molecules" responsible for the beneficial therapeutic effects in a medicine.

"With increasing medicine shortages that critically impact patient care, the new entity would contribute to supporting and securing API manufacturing as well as supply capacities for Europe and beyond," said Sanofi.

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The new European API "industry champion" is expected to help in balancing the industry's heavy reliance on API sourced from the Asian region, in particular China and India, it said.

Sanofi's site at Haverhill Picture: RICHARD GROVES

Sanofi's site at Haverhill Picture: RICHARD GROVES - Credit: Archant

It would rank as the world's second largest API company with expected sales of around 1bn euros by 2022, and a workforce of 3,100.

Sanofi executive vice president Philippe Luscan said the new entity would help ensure a greater stability in supplying drugs to millions of patients in Europe and beyond.

"This new entity would be agile as a standalone company, and able to unlock its growth potential, especially in capturing new third-party sales and all the opportunities of a market growing at a pace of 6% per year," he said.

By operating independently, the new entity plans to increase its sales to third parties and to expand its partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies.

Sanofi says it plans to hold a minority stake of around 30% in the new company - which it wants to be debt-free - and is committed to remaining an important customer for it.

The Haverhill site employs around 225 full-time permanent staff, plus a number of contractors. It will take Sanofi about two years to prepare for the stock market launch of the new business venture.