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BASF plans to build a new world-scale ibuprofen production plant in Ludwigshafen and expand ibuprofen capacities at its Bishop, Texas plant.
BASF announced on June 28, 2017 that it plans to build a new world-scale plant to produce ibuprofen in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Ibuprofen is used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. Production is expected to begin in 2021. “It will be the first world-scale ibuprofen plant in Europe,” says Dr. Markus Kamieth, a member of the Board of Executive Directors, BASF SE in a press statement.
BASF is also expanding its ibuprofen capacities at its production site in Bishop, Texas, to fill current supply gaps for ibuprofen in the market. The expansion is on track for completion in early 2018. With approximately €200 million invested in both projects, BASF aims to ensure reliable supply security for its customers and meet growing global demand.
“Both investments show our strong commitment to the pharmaceutical industry and our pharma solutions business,” says Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner, president of BASF’s Nutrition & Health business. “They enable us to close supply gaps and efficiently support our customers’ growth plans.”
“We are one of the originators of a sustainable and high-quality ibuprofen value chain and chemistry,” Francois Scheffler, vice president of BASF’s Global Segment Management Pharma Solutions and Human Nutrition, told Pharmaceutical Technology in an exclusive interview.
Scheffler highlighted that as a non-steroidal inflammatory drug (NSAID), ibuprofen has seen ongoing growth over a long period of time. “Ibuprofen is one of the best painkillers available on the market,” he said. “It’s not just because it has the least side effects but it also has anti-inflammatory action.”
Commenting on the drivers behind the increasing demand for ibuprofen, Scheffler said, “On one hand, we have a growing population who want access to Western-type medicines, especially in eastern Europe and Asia, and this includes Western-type painkillers. On the other, there is a cultural change where people today are generally less willing to put up with pain. Whether it’s children, or adults, or the ageing population, we are seeing a much bigger need to find solutions for pain.”
“Another factor supporting the massive growth of painkillers is in the area of sports,” Scheffler explained. “When people do sports or when they do activities, they don’t want to have pain, so they start taking painkillers on a more regular interval.”
Scheffler pointed out that at the moment, there is a significant shortage of supply of ibuprofen. “It puts our customers in a very difficult position because they have to meet the growing demands of the market and from their patients,” he said. “This is why BASF decided to invest in the new ibuprofen manufacturing plant.”
“The investment in the world-scale plant for ibuprofen in Ludwigshafen is also partly for sustainability reasons,” Scheffler told Pharmaceutical Technology. “We are very concerned about how some of the chemical pathways carry risk for the environment, and how some procurement methods do not sufficiently take into account the environmental consequences, be it on the health of workers, or directly on the environment in terms of waste in the air or in the water. Therefore, as a leading supplier for ibuprofen around the world, we felt that we need to be the one showing the way.”
BASF has been manufacturing ibuprofen at its FDA-audited, cGMP-certified production site in Bishop for more than 20 years. BASF operates an eco-efficient production process that ensures the highest product quality levels.