Sharp Clinical Services (Sharp), part of UDG Healthcare plc has announced a £9 million investment to fund a new multiple-phase pharmaceutical manufacturing, packaging and distribution facility in Wales. The investment, which also includes £500,000 from the Welsh Government, will enable the company to satisfy increased demand for Phase III clinical and commercial services.
The initial phase of the £9.5 million (€11 million) expansion, which is expected to be completed by late 2018, will involve the acquisition and renovation of a 110,000 square foot facility within the site. Initially 75,000 square foot will be fitted out. The 10-acre site in Rhymney, South Wales also benefits from the potential for further significant capacity expansion.
The build of the state-of-the-art unit will replace the company’s existing site in Crickhowell, Powys and will triple Sharp’s clinical service capacity for the global pharmaceutical, biotech and clinical research sectors.
By developing its manufacturing and analytical capabilities, adding automated bottling, blistering and serialisation as well as IRT services for clinical trial management, Sharp will be able to offer full service support for larger global clinical studies from this new European clinical centre of excellence.
Discussing the new development, Frank Lis, president of Sharp Clinical Services, said: “We are currently working at capacity at our site in Crickhowell, so this investment gives us a blank canvas to design a modern contract packaging, manufacturing and distribution facility that meets the evolving needs of drug development companies with single or multiple products at any clinical scale.
“The move to the Rhymney site will enable us to offer expanded capacity, scalability and automation, meaning we can simultaneously support multiple large scale Phase III studies, as well as projects at an earlier trial stage. It will also allow us to grow both the Sharp team to support current business and to expand our clinical services portfolio to new customers, at a larger scale.
“The efficient nature of our extended operation will also allow us to seamlessly move clients’ late phase clinical projects to commercial scale within our wider global Sharp network of facilities. This really is a major milestone for our business in the UK and will ultimately deliver huge value to our clients in North America, Europe and Asia.”
Sharp plans to commence the first phase of the expansion project in 2017, with completion expected for late 2018. The project is a welcome boost to the local economy in South Wales and the wider life science sector in the UK.
As a result of the investment, Sharp will double its headcount, creating 73 new jobs and safeguarding a further 70 jobs with Welsh Government support.
Commenting on the announcement, Wales’ Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, said: “Over the last few years the Welsh Government has invested millions in supporting life sciences in Wales and as one of our key priority sectors we are keen to see this important area grow even more.
“This expansion by Sharp is welcome news for the sector, the local community and the wider Welsh economy and shows how Wales’ healthcare and biotech industries are going from strength to strength.”