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“Unither’s Blow-Fill-Seal technology is perfectly suited and meets the needs of testing against Covid-19”

“Unither’s Blow-Fill-Seal technology is perfectly suited and meets the needs of testing against Covid-19”


#SpeakPharma with Unither Pharmaceuticals

2021-03-25Impressions: 685

“Unither’s Blow-Fill-Seal technology is perfectly suited and meets the needs of testing against Covid-19”

This week, SpeakPharma profiles Unither Pharmaceuticals, a worldwide leader in drug manufacturing for generic pharmaceutical companies. With seven manufacturing sites spread across France, the US, China, and Brazil, Unither is today a worldwide leader in Blow-Fill-Seal (BFS) technology, a form of advanced aseptic manufacturing in which the container is formed, filled, and sealed in one continuous, automated system. Unither’s manufacturing capabilities include (though it’s not limited to) eye drops and respiratory unit doses, saline solutions, and stick-packs. The use of BFS technology enables the manufacture of RNase-free single doses, that can also be sterile if necessary.

During the pandemic, the French CDMO has been able to address challenges faced by the drug industry by manufacturing over 10 million unit-doses of Covid testing kits each month. Eric Chesnel, licensing and commercial director at Unither Pharmaceuticals, speaks to us about the company, and how it has played a unique role in alleviating the challenges posed by Covid-19. Excerpts:

— Tell us about the genesis of Unither Pharmaceuticals.

The company was founded in 1993, in Amiens, France. Unither Pharmaceuticals’ vision is to develop, design, produce and market affordable and easy-to-use products to improve the lives of patients. It is with this vision that the CDMO has specialized in the manufacture of galenic forms for pharmaceutical and generic drug companies and has become the world leader in Blow-Fill-Seal (BFS) technology, which is used in eye drops, physiological sera, and anti-asthma drugs in sterile unit doses.

Over the years, we have focused on innovation and have had the courage to take calculated risks. As a result, our development projects have flourished.

Unither Pharmaceuticals has seven manufacturing sites and one R&D center located in France, the United States, China and Brazil. These sites generated a revenue of around US$ 393.6 million (330 million) in 2020 with a headcount exceeding 1,600 employees.

— How has the BFS activity of the company performed?

The BFS activity, which is today the group’s spearhead, has been developed over the years, and has won visibility for Unither Pharmaceuticals. By the end of 2008, Unither had sold more than one billion doses in one year. It took us 15 years to become the world leader by volume. Leadership in this activity has also made us more visible to our future clients.

Our leadership in this area is the result of our credibility and our commitment to those who have faith in us. This commitment has borne fruit — we crossed the symbolic barrier of two billion doses in 2015. As for the threshold of three billion doses in one year, we reached that in 2020 and it should take us only four years to reach the one billion additional doses mark — i.e., four billion doses per annum. The acceleration phenomenon is undeniable.

— How has Covid-19 impacted your CDMO business? 

From China to Brazil, from Europe to the USA, Covid-19 has spread across the planet and has significantly disrupted the world. Containment of the disease has been one of the most visible manifestations of the upheaval we have experienced over the last one year or more. Like all companies, Unither was also affected by this upheaval. Yet, all our customer’s orders have been delivered and patients have benefited from the products we manufacture and have been able to continue their treatment without interruption.

Our performance during the pandemic has been outstanding and has been noticed and praised by our customers. The credit for this goes to the commitment and involvement of everyone within the company.

— How is Unither equipping itself to better address the market for Covid diagnostic tests?

Following an initial request from a customer, the BFS technology has proven to be perfectly suited and adept at meeting the needs of testing against Covid-19. With more than 10 million single doses manufactured each month, Unither has set up a unit that can be used to meet the specific needs of Covid and other diagnostic tests. Our different locations enable us to be responsive and offer large capacities.

— Besides France, Unither also has plants in the US, Brazil and China. How has the company performed in these markets?

Our industrial capacities continue to grow in each of these markets, through constant and sustained investment in new high-speed BFS lines, as well as through new acquisitions. Last year, Unither initiated the acquisition of the Nanjing Ruinian Best Pharmaceutical Company Limited’s plant in China.

In 2021, Unither will be installing six new lines — three lines in Coutances (France), two in Rochester (USA), one in Gannat (France).

— What are some of your future plans for your BFS business?

The increasing number of projects and the task of transforming them into products and then into successes, pose increasingly difficult challenges in an environment that is demanding in terms of its regulatory, quality and competitive landscapes. As a result, we continue to grow our expertise. Renewed and ongoing trust from our customers is the greatest reward for all Unither employees, and especially the entire sales team. To meet global demand, we can now be found in all continents. The next challenge is to address all technical and capacity requirements in our geographic markets and therapeutic areas, such as ophthalmology, asthma and rhinology and diagnostics. We are already working towards the goal.