“BD's new plant in Zaragoza will produce drug delivery devices, primarily for pharmaceutical companies that supply the European market with drugs in PFS such as vaccines and other biologics,” said Eric Borin, worldwide president of BD Pharmaceutical Systems.
In December, the medical technology company and pioneer of the prefilled syringe (BFS), announced plans to invest around US$1.2bn over a four-year period to expand and upgrade manufacturing capacity and technology for PFS, as well as advancing drug delivery systems (ADDS) across its six global manufacturing locations. It mentioned then that spend would include the addition of a new site in Europe, with the announcement this week of the Spanish build confirmation of that intention.
Lourdes López, general director of BD in Spain and Portugal, said the company began a detailed site location search process at the end of last year. That resulted in Zaragoza, Aragon being selected because of the optimal conditions offered by the region, the synergies that could be produced with BD’s Fraga facility as well as “the results and excellent performance of the plants that currently exist in Spain.”
BD told us the Spanish facility will come on stream by 2024 at the latest.
Outlining the rationale for the build, it said that while the first COVID-19 vaccines are in vials, future waves could be in pre-filled syringes, for speed and ease of delivery.
"There’s also strong growth in pre-filled drug delivery business for flu vaccines and biologic therapies, particularly for arthritis/diabetes, in home self-injection. Some 80% of biologics are now delivered by self-injection - autoinjectors that use pre-filled syringes - rather than IV infusions in hospitals or clinics."
Moreover, BD noted that biologics are the fastest-growing pharmaceutical sector and some 40% of the 16,000 drugs in the global pharmaceutical pipeline are biologic therapies.
Indeed, the biologics market was valued at US$251.5bn in 2018, with a forecast value of US$625.6bn in 2026, according to the Global Biologics Market Share Global Industry Report.
Construction to start this year
The technology company said it plans to begin construction of the new plant later this year; the new facility will be the fourth manufacturing site for the technology group in Spain. It is expected to employ 150 people in 2024 and up to 600 when full operations start in 2030, said the group.
Initially, the site will encompass an area of 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet), with plans to expand it up to 30,000 square meters (323,000 square feet) by 2030.
The plant will meet high sustainability and eco-efficiency standards, said BD. It will also be a fully digital site, incorporating the latest in ‘Industry 4.0’ intelligent and autonomous technologies.
BD started operations in Spain more than 40 years ago and currently has three production plants located in San Agustín de Guadalix, Fraga and Almaraz. These facilities produce a total of 10 billion medical devices each year and employ 1,500 people.
The Fraga plant is a key production site for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccination injection devices.
The planned site in Zaragoza is subject to administration process completion.