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100 extra jobs at Pharmacia in Puurs

American pharmaceutical group Pharmacia is making a further substantial investment in the expansion of its Belgian production plant in Puurs. The group is spending nearly 32 million euro on the construction of warehouses for medicine packaging. The move will create 100 extra jobs from this year onwards.

The rapid expansion of the packaging department comes scarcely a year after the start-up of a production and packaging line for medicines that are made in a sterile environment. That involved an investment of over 32 million euro. Then, in early 2002, there was the opening of new laboratories, in an expansion that cost 8.2 million euro. The new buildings have space for 14 packaging lines. 200 people will work there.

The succession of investments at the Pharmacia site in Puurs has created numerous extra jobs. At the end of 2001, the workforce numbered 1,262 people at the production site, 170 more than the previous year. This year, another 100 people will be taken on. In addition to Puurs, Pharmacia has another site in Belgium in Diegem, where 273 people are employed.

Pharmacia’s stream of investment towards Puurs shows that the production site there is one of the European spearheads in the pharmaceutical concern’s expansion plans, says director Julien Deneve. The extension of the Puurs plant coincides with far-reaching changes within the group.

The medicine producer was set up by the American pharmaceutical company Upjohn. Upjohn merged with the Swedish company Pharmacia in 1995. Five years later came the merger with the pharmaceutical division of Monsanto-Searle.

In past years, Pharmacia has closed thirty sites around the world, but by contrast the production site in Puurs has emerged strengthened from all these operations. Since 1997, 132.77 million euro has been invested in the Belgian plant.

According to Julien Deneve, part of the explanation lies in the way in which production costs have been kept under control in past years. “The high labour costs are certainly not an advantage here, but we have succeeded in maintaining a constant pace of technical innovation,” says the plant director. In practice, that has meant the extensive automation and computerisation of medicine production and packaging.

Finally, Deneve points out that the punctual implementation of investment projects is something that enhances a site’s reputation within a pharmaceutical concern.

Reported by
6 June 2002

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