Janssen Pharmaceutica invests 21 million to halve the production time of medicines

(22-02-2019) Janssen Pharmaceuticals and UGent developed a new technology that makes it possible to manufacture medicines faster.

Together with Ghent University and the American Rutgers University, Janssen Pharmaceuticals developed a new technique that halves the production time of medicines. The new technology makes it possible to produce continuously and not in separate batches, which today is the norm in the pharmaceutical industry. Batches are large barrels in stainless steel in which the raw materials for medicines are mixed and supplemented.

'The batch process is slow and inefficient because many intermediate steps are required', says Dirk De Smaele, head of Small Molecule Pharmaceutical Development at Janssen. 'With the new technology, the process is constant, so fewer raw materials are used. The total lead time is halved and the quality can be continuously measured and monitored.'

The innovative technology results from the lab of Professor Chris Vervaet (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Ghent University), and was originally developed under the supervision of prof. Em. Jean Paul Remon. The lab is part of the UGent Center of Excellence in Sustainable Pharmaceutical Engineering (CESPE): a multidisciplinary research accelerator in the field of pharmaceutical production technologies. Thanks to the efforts of many people and the help of Flemish policy instruments such as IOF and VLAIO, this technology today has its effective application.

Clinical research

Janssen prides itself on being the first pharmaceutical producer to apply this technique. Janssen started a production line with the new technology in Antwerp, Beerse, but also in Puerto Rico and Italy. For Beerse, this comes at an investment of 21 million euros.

At Janssen they have already started producing small quantities for clinical research. If successful, they consider making larger volumes, also for commercial purposes.