Sales at FMC’s speciality chemicals unit, of which pharmaceuticals account for close to one-third, grew six per cent in the second quarter. To ensure continued growth FMC is expanding its portfolio.
“We're focused on adding products which expand capabilities in controlled release technologies, and in partnering with our customers to improve the potential of drugs with poor solubility”, Michael Wilson, president of the speciality chemicals unit at FMC, told a conference call with investors.
Adding new products will build on progress made in the second quarter. “BioPolymer achieved record sales and earnings in the quarter [and] pharmaceutical ingredients sales gains were realised in all product segments”, Wilson said.
FMC has expanded production capacity for tablet binding excipient microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) at its Cork, Ireland plant. A $15m to $20m expansion of the Newark, Delaware MCC plant is also underway and expected to be working by the end of 2012.
Capacity for a further group pharmaceutical excipients, alginates, is being added in Norway. Alginates are used by FMC in excipients with gelling, thickening and stabilising applications.
FMC is also expanding its lithium plant in Argentina. A 30 per cent capacity expansion is already underway and FMC is also considering increasing output further by the start of 2014.
A downstream product from the lithium unit is butyllithium, a substance with uses in pharmaceutical synthesis. Sales of butyllithium were cited as driving double-digit growth at the lithium unit in the second quarter.
FMC has increased the global pricing of butyllithium. “Over the past year pricing has not kept pace with rising raw materials, energy, and transportation cost increases”, Chris Senyk, global marketing director for FMC Lithium, said in a press statement.
Rising raw material costs have also affected on the BioPolymer unit, which includes pharmaceutical excipients. FMC has passed costs onto customers and has “more than 100 per cent coverage of that raw material price increase”, Pierre Brondeau, CEO of FMC, said in the investor conference call.