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Triumphant aftermath of Genzyme's 'big bang' celebrated

Thursday, 9th December 2010.

Just under a year after a series of explosions tore a hole in the side of one of Genzyme's 'Twin Towers' on Haverhill's industrial estate, it became fully operational again this week.

The company held a special event to mark the occasion and to thank everyone who had been involved in the project to get manufacturing facility K32, as the taller tower is known, back into production.

It is the largest continuous process active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility in the world.

It produces the active ingredient for Renvela® (sevelamer carbonate), a medication for the control of serum (blood) phosphorus in patients with hyperphosphataemia in chronic kidney disease (CKD), which was launched in the UK in October this year.

The site supplies the active ingredient in Renvela® to the wider global market and plays a key role in distributing the product around the UK and the rest of the world.

The explosions soon after midnight on December 16, 2009, did not injure anyone, thanks to a quick decision to evacuate the building 20 minutes earlier, but left the facility closed for extensive refurbishment.

During this period, Genzyme ensured there was no interruption to the supply of Renvela to patients through managing inventory and by the rapid completion of the K32 project.

This was vital as the Haverhill site is the only place in the world where it is made and it is used by 1.2 million patients worldwide.

Paul Logue, vice-president and general manager at Genzyme in Haverhill, a post he took up two weeks before the incident, said: “Today marks a very special day for our Haverhill site with the re-opening of the manufacturing facility K32.

"The additional investment in new equipment and safety systems is a clear demonstration of Genzyme’s commitment to the safety of our staff and to the health of the patients we serve.

"It is an opportunity to recognize all the hard work and dedication of our staff at Haverhill have shown during the past year in order to rapidly return the site to full operations.

"We would again like to thank the emergency services, all our suppliers, our engineering partners and our neighbours for their valuable contributions to our recovery and remediation effort.

"We were actively involved in developing the manufacturing processes and capacity needed to produce Renvela and with full production resumed we can look forward to playing our role in bringing it to patients in the UK and around the world.

"This is a remarkable story of triumph in the face of adversity."

Genzyme's senior director of government affairs and market access Steve Bates said the site's ability to bounce back had important implications in the wider world as a vote of confidence in the resilience and expertise of UK manufacturing in pharmaceuticals.

"This success resonates louder outside Haverhill than the small bang some people heard nearly a year ago," he said.

Invited guests, including Haverhill town mayor Cllr Elaine McManus, were then given a tour of the facility.

The Haverhill manufacturing site was first opened in 1982, and has since grown significantly in size, with a number of capital investments totalling more than £100m and its staff numbers reaching 300.

Haverhill Online News

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