Novo Nordisk is upgrading the insulin production plant at its facility in Chartres, Eure-et-Loir region, France. The Danish company is one of the largest producers of insulin products in the world; the company is responsible for over one third of all insulin production.
The upgrade to the Chartres plant, which has been producing insulin since 1959, is in response to a World Health Organisation (WHO) projection of an increase in the number of diabetes cases expected by 2030. The WHO predicts an increase from 177 million cases in the present day to 370 million in 2030.
The new plant expansion is requiring an investment of €218m.
The plant will be designed to increase the production capacity of insulin doses and also to increase the volume of production of the Novo Nordisk Flexpen, an injection-less pen dosage system that makes the management of diabetic medication much easier.
The expansion will potentially be able to serve the whole European market and parts of Middle East and Africa.
Insulin cartridge production plant
The plant at Chartres has previously undergone an expansion program initiated in September 1996 and inaugurated in the final quarter of 1999. The total cost of this was FFr450m ($64.3m) and the insulin cartridge production was increased to 60 million per year. This further plant expansion began in 2003.
The upgrade includes an additional filling line and two new assembly and packaging lines. This will double the production of insulin cartridge doses from 92 million per year at present to over 180 million units at full production. Production at Chartres has increased by 60% since 2005. Phase one of the expansion, which included the installation of a new Flexpen assembly area, was completed in September 2005.
The upgrade is in response to a WHO projection of an increase in the number of diabetes cases expected by 2030.”
The contract for the engineering and the project management of the expansion at the Chartres plant has been awarded to Technip in conjunction with Novo Nordisk Engineering. The expansion is being carried out in two phases.
The first phase was completely managed by Technip and included the revamp and expansion of the existing insulin filling line, a new assembly and packaging workshop for insulin injection pens and a new state-of-the-art central heating and climate control system.
The first phase, completed by the first half of 2005, was carried out by the Paris engineering centre of Technip. It required over 70,000 engineering hours to complete within the timescale. The second phase of the expansion is being managed by Technip and Novo Nordisk Engineering in a joint effort and will include the installation and validation of a new filling line for Penfill and two new assembly and packaging lines. The filling line, scheduled to be commissioned in 2011, will expand the plant’s capacity significantly.
Further insulin production plant products
Novo Nordisk has a number of products in development which the plant will be able to produce. These include the NovoMix range of pre-mixed insulin analogues and Novo Rapid, for which the company has obtained European marketing approval as a diabetes treatment. Novo Rapid is an extremely fast-acting drug, and thus allows users much greater freedom.
“Novo Nordisk is developing an inhalable form of insulin.”
Novo Nordisk is also developing an inhalable form of insulin in conjunction with Aradigm. The new drug form, NN-1998, will use Aradigm’s AERx delivery technology and is currently in pivotal phase III clinical trials. This inhalable form of insulin will be an even greater step towards diabetic medication convenience and patient freedom.