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Johnson Matthey to exit battery materials

Following a detailed review, Johnson Matthey has concluded that the potential returns from its Battery Materials business “will not be adequate to justify further investment”. It will therefore seek to sell all or parts of the business.

Although demand has been growing strongly, the company said, “so is competition from alternative technologies and other manufacturers” and the market is becoming commoditised. JM had explored partnerships in the field but found that “our capital intensity is too high compared with other more established large-scale, low-cost producers”.

PharmaZell and Novasep to merge

PharmaZell, a German-based producer of speciality APIs, and France’s CDMO Groupe Novasep are to merge under the ownership of PharmaZell’s current majority shareholder, private equity firm Bridgepoint. This remains subject to consultation with employees and other closing conditions.

Curia to expand US API capabilities

Curia has announced plans to invest about $35 million in order to expand commercial-scale API manufacturing capacity at its largest site in Rensselaer, New York, over the course of 18 months. This is the third significant announcement in the month since the former AMRI renamed itself.

Platinum-based API line running

Heraeus Pharmaceutical Ingredients (HPI) has announced that its new production line for platinum-based pharmaceutical ingredients at its headquarters in Hanau, Germany, is now running at full speed and customers have already received the first deliveries of APIs. The company launched the project in late 2018 in response to growing demand for oncology drugs and imminent shortages. HPI, a business line of Heraeus Precious Metals, is world’s largest supplier of platinum-based HPAPIs, which are used in numerous therapies, notably lung, colorectal, ovarian and testicular cancer.

Novasep in double French expansion

Novasep has announced a €6.1 million investment to modernise API manufacturing at its site in Mourenx, south-west France. This followed on shortly after a €4 million investment had been announced at its main HPAPIs site at Le Mans.

Via the former investment, Novasep will install new equipment and revamp clean rooms for API isolation at Mourenx, creating seven new jobs. The company said that this will “enhance Novasep’s flexibility and develop a high-performance capacity for the custom manufacturing of innovative therapeutic molecules”.

Biden looks to push ‘reshoring’

The Biden administration has announced plans to tackle the US’s dependency on imports for critical medicines, with a new strategy that will seek to drive the ‘reshoring’ of some manufacturing. This follows a multi-industry review of key supply chains, occasioned by an executive order in February.

JM to exit pharma?

In a pre-close trading update for the financial year ended 31 March 2021, Johnson Matthey (JM) CEO Robert MacLeod revealed that: “We have commenced a strategic review of Health, as we continue to focus resources to maximise value for our shareholders”.

Full results will be announced on 27 May but it is known that Health, which offers API custom manufacturing services, controlled substances, catalysts and generics, generated sales of £223 million, about 5% of the total sale. The division’s full-year operating performance is expected to be above the prior year.

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