Synergies as a breeding ground for worldwide successful pharmaceuticals expertise

View of the 120 hectare BioPharmaPark Dessau. Photo: IDT Biologika GmbH

At BioPharmaPark Dessau cook books are written for vaccinations and pharmaceuticals

When Saxony Anhalt introduces itself at BIO International Convention 2017 in San Diego, California, from 19 to 22 June 2017 it is also about finding new members for the Biotec family in Germany. And Saxony Anhalt is putting itself on the map here – the dense network of scientific competence centres, which offers companies from the whole spectrum of pharmaceutical, plant based and industrial biotechnology the ideal requirements. BioPharmaPark Dessau is one of these crystallisation points.

Pharmaceutical companies are located at BioPharmaPark Dessau, which not only benefit from the special infrastructure and the service network on location. Due to the immediate vicinity to each other, synergies arise in pharmaceutical production and packaging, in quality control and compliance, and also in research and development. The operator of the park is IDT Biologika, a company with almost 100 years of pharmaceutical tradition in Dessau.

“Earlier, our photographer flew over the premises in a helicopter. Now he lets drones fly over”, says Peter Kellner and shows the latest photos with a view of the 120 hectare BioPharmaPark Dessau in Saxony Anhalt – located 90 kilometres south of Berlin, and 60 kilometres north of Leipzig. Peter Kellner is the spokesman of the company, that develops and produces the biotechnologically manufactured vaccinations and pharmaceuticals to keep people and animals healthy.

Even almost 100 years ago, human and veterinary medicine vaccinations were developed here, including for tetanus, erysipelas and diphtheria. IDT Biologika emerged from the former vaccination factory Dessau-Tornau. Currently, the company is focussing on the various problematic situations in the countries of the world, and finding appropriate solutions. IDT Biologika is increasingly finding its niche in the global market, with the development of its own products, primarily in the area of animal health; for example with a vaccination against oedema disease in piglets.

“Cook books” for vaccinations and pharmaceuticals

“Our key competences include writing cook books”, says Peter Kellner. This means: IDT Biologika develops the technology to manufacture bacterial and viral vaccinations, on behalf of international companies. 

“At the customer’s request, in addition to the development of active ingredients, we also take on their manufacture, and are therefore one of the few worldwide, that can do this”, says Kellner, and refers to the whole added value chain, that the company covers; this includes an in-house high speed bottling line and an infrastructure, which allows a production and transport chain up to -80°C. In 2016, IDT Biologika made turnover of around €190 million. Since the privatisation in 1993, the company has invested around €300 million in the Dessau site.

ONCOTEC Pharma benefits from the existing infrastructure

“Pressurised air and steam and water in pharmaceutical quality – pharmaceutical companies don't have to take care of such provisions themselves, at BioPharmaPark Dessau. The infrastructure of the area has been well adapted for us”, says Christin Richter, Manager of the Business Development at ONCOTEC Pharma Produktion GmbH. The worldwide active company produces aseptic liquid cytostatic drugs, i.e. sterile injection solutions in bottles or ready-to-fill syringes. In addition, it has systems, which freeze dry the bottle liquid for preservation. In this special area, ONCOTEC offers the whole added value chain from development to market launch, right up to production including inspection and analysis.

The company started in Dessau in 1997, with a bottling and syringe filling line. 20 years of growth and investment of over €43 million so far into buildings, machines and systems followed. A robotically controlled bottling line is currently being built. At the end of 2018, “line 5” should be put into operation, and bottle special products like highly effective antibody active ingredient conjugates (ADC) for chemotherapy. “With this investment, we expand our technological requirements, to further extend the production of highly innovative special products”, says Christin Richter.

Since the Bacteriological Institute was founded in Dessau in 1921, vaccinations have been researched and developed here in the region. “Dr. Felgenträger & Co. Öko.-chem. und Pharma“ GmbH is in the tradition of the location. Former employees of the research institute for vaccinations Dessau brought the manufacture and use of livestock specific vaccinations and individually manufactured auto vaccines for all species of pets, into the company founded in 1990 as business fields. “Dr. Felgenträger & Co.“ thereby serves niches, that arise due to gaps in the range, or problems with the efficacy of commercially available vaccinations. “We work closely with practitioners: with farm vets, diagnostic laboratories, investigation offices and institutes”, says Managing Director Hartmut Appl, and highlights consulting as one of the key competences of the company. In addition, various pharmaceutical active ingredients are manufactured for human medicine, for example to treat hypercholesterolemia or hyperkalaemia.

Merz on an expansion course with dermafillers

Diggers and bulldozers on the premises are a testament to building activities by the Merz Group. In 2018, their new production site for the manufacture of dermafillers should go into operation, here at BioPharmaPark. “We will hire more natural scientists, engineers, pharmacists and chemists”, says Site Manager Michael Pfeil. The pharmaceutical company based in Frankfurt am Main, founded a further site here in 2002, due to the collaboration with IDT Biologika. “We find the right knowledge and specialist experience here”, says Michael Pfeil.

After building up a production site to manufacture the active ingredient Botulinum-Neurotoxin, Merz invested a further €18 million in the Dessau site, for a state of the art aseptic production site for the manufacture of self-produced pharmaceutical “Xeomin”. It is used for the treatment of spasmodic illnesses. Since 2011, it has been approved for the American market, and is sold as a Merz own medication there. “A further use of Botulinum-Toxin is skin smoothing”, says Michael Pfeil, and that his company also uses this active ingredient in beauty products. Merz has invested €15 million in the new production site for the manufacture of dermafillers.

Like the other companies in the BioPharmaPark, Merz values the immediate proximity to science and the universities in Halle, Leipzig und Berlin. The company has its own research and development department.

IDT spokesman Peter Kellner talks about the transfer and exchange of pharmaceutical expertise: “Thereby, we companies put ourselves in a position to perform in a way that others can't.” Christin Richter from ONCOTEC confirmed: “We use the synergies and cooperations on site, to be able to adjust our products to the high standards of the customer in future, quickly and flexibly.”

Author: Kathrain Graubaum

Image caption: View of the 120 hectare BioPharmaPark Dessau. Photo: IDT Biologika GmbH

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