The most common chronic inflammatory bowel infections are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The number of people affected is increasing (currently more than two million people in Europe and around 60,000 in Austria), and they suffer from it for the rest of their lives.
The Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda produces a drug (biological) in Linz to treat these diseases in order to relieve the symptoms – since 2016 as an infusion solution and since 2020 as a pre-filled syringe and pen, which is also an injection device. The latter two are for self-administration by the patient. It is Takeda’s top-selling product worldwide.
Takeda is now investing around 100 million euros in the expansion of biologics production in Linz by 2025, as site manager Roland Fabris explains. A new syringe production line, which covers the filling step and is scheduled to go into operation next year, is being built. The location in Upper Austria will thus become the main producer of one of the most important drugs for the treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, says Takeda. From 2024, the Linz-based company will cover 70 percent of the global demand for this drug. It acts specifically in the gastrointestinal tract and not on the whole body.
The validation and qualification runs are currently taking place for the new system. Almost 20 new freezers for storing the active ingredient will be installed in order to shorten global supply chains. Photovoltaics, heat pumps and investments in assembly and packaging charges are also an issue.
Takeda generates sales of around 500 million euros at its Linz location with more than 700 employees. In addition to the drug against chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, the main products include a stroke drug, a high-tech plaster for surgery, emergency medication and oncology products.
The biologic for inflammatory bowel disease was the first maintenance therapy available in the EU with intravenous and subcutaneous administration for adult patients with moderately to severely active forms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
“The current expansion once again confirms the importance of our location in the global Takeda production network,” says Fabris.