Readers of PharmTech may have noticed that I’ve been concerned about innovation in the pharmaceutical industry and somewhat despairing of the state of early-stage drug discovery work. So you can imagine my thrill–and relief–yesterday when I had a chance to meet the finalists for the “Facility of the Year Awards” (FOYA), sponsored by ISPE, INTERPHEX, and Pharmaceutical Processing magazine, and learned of the truly amazing solutions that engineers are implementing to current industry problems. Among those problems, two stood out in particular: the need to get a plant built and online quickly, and the need for flexible designs in plants engineered to manufacture multiple products and–even more impressive–product classes.
In the first category, speedy, design and manufacture, engineers who designed and built Pfizer’s plant in in Illertissen, Germany, and those who managed the project for Roche’s new facility in Basel, Switzerland, completed their projects four to six months ahead of schedule and remained under budget. Pfizer’s plant is almost totally automated, and requires only two human operators per shift, earning the plant’s engineering team the award for process innovation. The Roche project was completed in record time, earning its project manager the award for project execution.
Flexibility was a theme addressed by engineers and designers responsible for the New Brunswick, NJ, facility just constructed for Bristol-Myers Squib (BMS), and for Boehringer Ingelheim’s new plant in Biberach, Germany. The BMS plant, which won the award for equipment innovation, is configured to manufacture materials for clinical trials of almost any type of product, small molecule, biological, or sterile in batch sizes ranging from 100 grams to 400 kilograms.
Engineers responsible for designing the Boehringer Ingelheim facility, which won the award for facility integration, grappled with the problem of containment. The engineers designed the plant such that air curtains could surround a piece of equipment when it processes high-potency materials, eliminating the need to duplicate machinery inside and outside containment rooms.
Finally, the plant built for IDT Biologika GmbH in Dessau-Rosslau, Germany, which won the award for operational excellence, took a novel approach to constructing an entirely clean facility. They built it out of glass. That, they said, makes the plant literally transparent to inspectors and keeps plant workers mindful of the need to maintain sterile conditions.
Please click here for more detailed information about the awards and awardees.