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Sanofi (France) boosts biopharma in Flanders

EUR 300 million: that’s how much Sanofi will inject into its production site in Geel, Flanders. The French biopharma company announced its expansion plans in 2016, choosing its Flanders-based plant for the production of its latest generation of biological medicines. Shortly after, Sanofi received a nomination for Foreign Investment of the Year at the Foreign Investment Trophy 2017.

“Ever since the Middle Ages, we’ve been using biotechnology to bake bread and brew beer in Flanders,” explains Gunther Pauwels, General Manager Sanofi Geel. “We’ve got biotech in our genes, and we’ve used it as the building block for a company that produces life-saving medicines. We can be proud of what we achieved in Geel: it’s a word-class production facility. To gain further momentum, we’re investing in a new production line as well as in the modernization of our laboratories.”

From big to bigger in Geel

Today, the Sanofi site in Geel mainly produces alglucosidase alfa – a protein therapy for the treatment of Pompe disease. This genetic disorder damages muscle and nerve cells, affecting 5000 patients worldwide. “By building a new production line, we will add pioneering new medicines to our production portfolio,” says Gunther Pauwels.

At the site, 8,000 m2 of additional production space will be built to manufacture biological antibodies that are used as an active ingredient in medicines. These ‘monoclonal’ antibodies, however, are so complex that they cannot be obtained through chemical production. Instead, Sanofi extracts them from living cells that are cultivated in large bioreactors.

“Biological medicines have huge potential,” comments Stéphane Vandendael, General Manager of Sanofi Genzyme Belux. “The fact that we were able to bring this investment to Geel is mainly thanks to the area’s unique and long-standing expertise in biopharma.”

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Reported by
Flanders Investment & Trade
6 February 2017

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