Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies with Aspen chief executive Stephen Saad and Aspen capability manager Branson Bosman at the launch of its containment facility in Port Elizabeth. Aspen says the facility has created 500 new jobs. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - Africa's biggest generic drug maker, Aspen Pharmacare, yesterday announced a R1billion investment in Port Elizabeth high containment facility, with 500 new jobs created through the opening of the facility.

The group said the high potency manufacturing facility would provide Aspen with the opportunity to expand its exports on products that were used for rare indications.

It said the facility would be key in treating late-stage cancers, prevention of organ tissue rejection in liver and kidney transplants as well as treatment of certain autoimmune diseases and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Chief executive Stephen Saad said Aspen continued its evolution into a global specialty manufacturer of niche products requiring complex technologies.

“The high potency manufacturing facility we are opening today represents such complex technologies, providing Aspen with the opportunity to expand its exports with products which are used for rare indications.”

The 23000m² facility has been audited by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and the German regulator, Landesamt für soziale Dienste des Landes Schleswig-Holstein.

The group said at full capacity, the high containment facility would produce approximately 3.6billion tablets annually and package some 3million bottles a month.

Aspen said its operations in the Eastern Cape employed more than 2500 with 2000 at the Port Elizabeth plant.

The group said more than 90percent of these employees were recruited from local communities.

“The high containment facility, together with the new sterile facility being built at the same site, will provide for some 500 additional jobs,” Saad said.

Minister of Trade and Industry (dti) Dr Rob Davies said the investment would strengthen the country’s capacity as a manufacturer of quality pharmaceutical products.

Davies said the plan would also take South Africa to a new level of manufacturing space and create necessary space in the manufacturing sector.

He said Aspen benefited from the dti 12i Tax Incentive with a tax credit of about R209million. The 12i Tax Incentive is designed to support Greenfield investments.

“We congratulate Aspen on this investment, which is fully aligned to the government's industrial policy action plan, the National Development Plan and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to investment,” Davies said.

“If we look at the pharmaceutical industry, South Africa’s population is the largest consumer of pharmaceutical products. When we look at some of these statistics, I think we can see that there are huge challenges in that we have a huge trade deficit of around R20billion. This means we import R20bn of pharmaceutical products.”