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GlaxoSmithKline open S$600 million facilty in Singapore

Posted on: June 12, 2009


Channel NewsAsia – Wednesday, June 10

SINGAPORE: International pharmaceutical and biomedical player GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has started a 10—year strategic roadmap for its business in Singapore as part of plans to grow its Asian business.

The roadmap starts with a new S$600 million Singapore manufacturing plant which will make vaccines.

GSK has also set aside S$30 million for an endowment fund to provide scholarships in green chemistry and public health policy. The Singapore government will add another S$20 million to the fund.

GSK has invested some S$1.5 billion into Singapore to date, hiring over 1,000 employees. The new vaccine facility will hire in the region of 200 people.

But it is not just investment into bricks and mortar that GSK is developing as it marks 50 years of business in Singapore.

Andrew Witty, CEO, GlaxoSmithKline, said: “A few years ago, we established an endowment fund to send students overseas to do chemistry, bio—chemistry at the beginning of the bio—pharmaceutical investment phase here at GSK.

“That’s come to an end and now what I’m keen to do is develop the talent pool for the next era of Singapore success and help support GSK.

“We are focusing on two things. One is green chemistry. Now, what that means is we want a hand or to help develop the skill sets in Singapore so that our manufacturing proceeds of the future are sustainable and green.

“That’s critical and I think for Singapore, that’s going to be an important competitive advantage, not just in pharmaceuticals, but in all sorts of areas.

“The second area is that we are creating funding to help students do more research on health policy and again this is where Singapore can do a leadership role here in Asia.”

Two thirds of the endowment fund will go towards education in sustainable manufacturing and green chemistry, with the remaining one third going towards health care policy.

The government said such programmes fit in with Singapore’s plans, as sustainable development is a major issue for the country in its search for new growth areas.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “Drugs are physically small, but their effects are targeted and potent, and they command high value. That is how Singapore must be.

“Ours is a small island with no natural resources. We must, therefore, invest in knowledge and R&D, recruit and groom talent, and focus our efforts to excel in niche areas.”

GSK pumped a total of S$50 million into the last endowment fund, which spanned 10 years and supported 278 scholars.

Meanwhile, GSK said its vaccine for the H1N1 virus will be available from September. Mr Witty said the firm has so far received orders for 150 million doses from governments around the world.

GSK is also increasing production of Relenza, a drug used to treat the H1N1 flu. It is expected to be able to deliver about 60 million packs a year in eight weeks.

The company is using a new production method, involving a simpler device. This will enable GSK to increase production capacity by another 100 million packs and make it easier to license the drug to other firms. — CNA/vm

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