Pill-maker Patheon to focus on core Canadian operations

Drug manufacturer Patheon Inc. is pouring more money into its Mississauga pill-making plant as it continues to focus on Canadian operations following the recent sale of its non-core clinical packaging business.

Patheon controller Dean Wilson did not specify how much new investment is going to the Mississauga operation or a sister plant in Whitby, Ont., just east of Toronto. But he told YourMissisaugaBiz.com the Canadian businesses are important to the multinational company,which has been on a major efficiency drive to improve its productivity and bottom line results.

“Whitby and Mississauga – it’s part of our plan to make those plants grow,” he said in an interview from Patheon’s plant in North Carolina.

“They get their amount of capital just like all the other plants do. Canada’s still important to us. We still have big plants there that employ a lot of people. And so Canada will continue to be part of our operational focus as we go forward,” he said.

Wilson, who j0ined Patheon four years ago after senior financial posts at cosmetics companies Coty and Revlon, stressed there was little investment in the small Burlington clinical packaging plant sold last month, a deal that transferred 20 employees to privately owned Bellwyck Packaging Solutions.

“Our Canadian operations are a big part of this company,” he said. “Because the Burlington sale was really a small part of our business, a strategic decision was made. We’re a small player in the business.”

With a location on Syntex Court, Patheon specializes in making drugs under contract for other global pharma companies, clinical trials and other drug develo0ment services. The company has 10 plants around the world and employs about 4,000 people.

Looking ahead, Wilson said Patheon wans to grow in its core markets.

“You have to look at acquisition markets and look at potential acquisitions,” he said. “But our strategy right now is to fix up, and improve the efficiency of our plants and get more volume into our current plants. As we get that fixed, done this year and early next year, the next step will be to look at other processes or businesses we want to get into and see if we want to get into any other activity.”

The company is one of Mississauga’s biggest drug makers, with more than US$700 million in annual revenues in 2011. Besides its manufacturing plants, the company has nine development centres and one clinical trial material packaging operation in Canada, the United States and Europe.

In recent years, Patheon has closed plants and restructured to boost its top and bottom lines in an increasingly competitive global drug business and manufacturing problems at some of its plants.

The company’s Mississauga and Whitby sites provide commercial and pharmaceutical development services and employ more than 1,000 people.

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