Orion strengthens Finnish pharmaceutical supply and export capabilities through investments

Orion is modernising production at its Turku plant through an investment of EUR 17 million.

As well as responding to increased demand, the company is strengthening Finnish pharmaceutical supply and its export capabilities. Orion’s Finnish pharmaceutical production makes the company unique.

Construction and renovation work at Orion’s pharmaceutical plant in Turku began in November 2020 after an intensive 12-month planning period.

Through an investment of EUR 17 million, Orion is upgrading the cancer drug packaging line at its pharmaceutical plant in Turku, in addition to expanding and modernising its cream production department. The investment also includes a new pure water system and district heating centre.

Why is Orion making a significant investment in Turku right now?

“In fact, this project is not exceptional in any way. Over the past five years, we have invested around EUR 160 million in our production plants in Finland,” says Liisa Hurme, Senior Vice President, Global Operations at Orion.

“The main purpose of the investment in Turku is to enable growth in response to increasing demand. We were running out of space and capacity at the plant, and the new cancer drug packaging line ensures compliance with the requirements of the authorities and customers around the world.”

Stability for pharmaceutical supply through expert staff

Orion is a unique operator in its field, even at the European level, because of its extensive domestic production. The company manufactures all its patent-protected proprietary drugs in Finland, as well as most of their raw materials.

“We definitely intend to continue to manufacture and invest in Finland. This is also a question of security of supply: as the only Finnish producer of medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients, with the exception of contraceptives, we play a significant role in providing Finnish households with pharmaceuticals. We are also an important part of the healthcare chain,” says Hurme.

She points out that each country mainly focuses on its own citizens in critical times. This has been particularly evident during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have a long history of production operations in Finland, and we have excellent, highly qualified employees. It’s impressive how they have outdone themselves during the pandemic! This has been a tough year for our staff.”

Expanded packaging selection and more efficient production

The Orion plant in Turku produces cytostatic cancer drugs, which are sold globally by Orion and its partners. A blister packaging line will now be added to the production chain, alongside the existing bottle lines. This is important because blister packaging is particularly popular in many countries, and it also meets the future requirements of the European pharmaceutical authorities.

Orion’s basic cream production is centralised at the Turku plant, which also produces the newest basic cream developed by Orion: a probiotic cream called Probicare. The production volumes of the cream and solution department at the Turku plant have increased over the years, and technologies are now being replaced with newer ones and facilities being designated for the storage and transfer of material streams.

The department also manufactures medical creams and liquid medicines for animals for international markets. Demand for animal pharmaceuticals is increasing rapidly, and Orion’s future product launches are expected to add to the boost in demand.

The new district heating centre of the Turku pharmaceutical plant is part of Orion’s energy programme, which aims for significant cost savings in energy consumption, as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Orion’s carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 50% since 2018. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2025.

Around 300 people will participate in the implementation of Orion’s investment projects in Turku, including more than 50 full-time employees of the contractors. Orion has around 700 employees in Turku, of whom more than 400 work in production.

Orion is a major export company

In addition to ensuring pharmaceutical production in Finland, Orion actively seeks to enter new geographical areas. More than 70% the company’s net sales come from outside Finland.

Most of its cancer drugs are exported to international markets, as well as a considerable portion of its animal pharmaceuticals. However, the basic creams produced in Turku are largely used in Finland – they can be seen as local products for Finns.

“Over the years, we have succeeded in improving the competitiveness of our operations, and we believe that demand will continue to grow. As a Finnish company, we are able to offer cost-effective production in both Finland and internationally,” says Hurme.

“In addition to ensuring security of supply, we are creating added value for Finnish exports around the global market.”

Text: Diana Törnroos

11 November, 2020

Press release 11 November, 2020