The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis recently announced that it launched a global production facility for innovative retina drug ingredients at its site in Kundl, Tyrol. The company invested a total of about USD 30 million (or approx. EUR 27.4 million) for this purpose. The production of active pharmaceutical ingredients will take place simultaneously in both Switzerland and Tyrol. The plant in Kundl will be expanded by the beginning of 2021 to gradually service as the exclusive production centre and will also assume sole responsibility for global deliveries. "This substance is a humanised single-chain antibody fragment whose production requires top-class know-how. In this way, Novartis in Austria is once again demonstrating its innovative strength", explained Michael Kocher, Novartis Country President, and Mario Riesner, Plant Manager in Kundl.
The substance will be used within the context of a therapy for a widespread disease of the retina (wet age-related macular degeneration) and was approved by European authorities in February 2020. A team of up to 40 specialists of the Novartis Technical Operations Network is working in three shifts Tyrol to manufacture the antibody fragment in line with the highest quality and safety standards. "The investments in the global production of this new substance underline the central role played by the Austrian sites in the global Novartis network. It is a strong commitment, and we are convinced that we, the Austrian team here, will succeed in attracting further innovative drugs and their production to Tyrol", said Kocher and Riesner.
From a medical perspective, the experts expect a strong level of effectiveness of the substance in treating the areas of the retina affected by the pathological wetness. This was shown in the pivotal studies which took place in the USA and Europe. In turn, this could mean that patients will not have to undergo therapy as frequently. Two leading scientific centres in Austria participated in the pivotal studies, namely the University Eye Clinic of Vienna and the Medical University Eye Clinic in Graz, thus contributing to the further development of the substance. The Novartis sites in Kundl/Schattenau, Tyrol as well as the plant in Unterach am Attersee in Upper Austria also belong to the company's global network of research and development centres.
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