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Nicholas Piramal expands in EU with Scottish unit

The new innovation unit will focus on new techniques in active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).

india Updated: Dec 12, 2006 20:08 IST

Pharmaceuticals major Nicholas Piramal India Ltd is increasing its footprint in the European Union. The company has set up a new research unit in the UK. The new unit, christened NPIL (Innovations), started work last week in Scotland.

The new innovation unit will focus on new techniques in active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). This would, in turn, help NPIL target a higher spot in custom manufacturing and synthesis, said a senior NPIL source, requesting anonymity.

“NPIL as a strategy is looking at increasing its presence in the European markets as part of its ‘global footprint’ strategy and we are ramping up the existing research facilities in that continent,” said a NPIL spokesman.

The company has been steadily stepping up efforts to increase its global expansion in pharmaceutical custom services in the last few months and the launch of the Scottish unit is its latest significant move in Europe.

Previous steps included the acquisition of  UK-based Avecia Pharmaceuticals last year and the buyout of Pfizer's Morpeth, England, manufacturing unit last June.

APIs are basic medicinal chemicals that make drugs effective and are patented in many stages by large companies that discover them.

European companies are struggling to keep up with API manufacturers in India and China that have skills comparable to their western counterparts at lower costs. Industry estimates say the European market for APIs is expected to rise from a value of around $4.5 billion in 2003 to $5.85 billion in 2010, implying a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8 per cent.

NPIL’s new centre would be based in the UK but work in cooperation with the firm's new research centre in Mumbai. It will control the development of the firm's new chiral technology SCRAM – a new technology that delivers significantly improved process yields in the production of certain chemicals, cutting costs and environmental waste.

The new unit will be headed by Ian Grudy, who will takeover from his current responsibility as director of sales, NPIL, UK. The facility will initially employ 25 people and would grow to 60 in two years, said the source.

suprotip.ghosh@hindustantimes.com