Alcon is a Swiss pharmaceutical company founded in 1945. It manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lenses and other vision care products. The company has been actively researching and manufacturing in this area for more than 65 years.
Alcon is one of the world’s largest eye care companies. Alcon merged with Novartis in April 2011. It is now the second largest division within Novartis.
Sales of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of eye diseases have been growing at more than 20% a year in Asian markets and consequently the company is expanding and building a new production plant in Singapore.
Alcon has had a manufacturing site for surgical intraocular lenses in Beijing since 1992, producing the Acrysof intraocular lens implant, which is the most popular implant used in cataract surgery worldwide.
The company also broke ground in September 2008 on an expansion of its Huntington, West Virginia, facility. On a 21-acre site in Cabell County, this is the world’s largest manufacturing centre for intraocular lenses.
In Huntington the new 74,000ft² expansion became operational in April 2011 The new facility, located approximately 13km from Alcon’s existing intraocular lens (IOL) manufacturing plant in Huntington, produces Monarch IOL delivery systems.
The pharmaceutical plant in Singapore is the first Alcon manufacturing facility in the Asian region. The new 330,000ft² facility is being constructed on a leased 20-acre site in Tuas Biomedical Park. The facility broke ground in May 2009.
The Singaporean authorities have welcomed the new addition to the island’s pharmaceutical / biomedical industry cluster as there has been a trade / export downturn due to the financial problems in the US. Output in December was down 34% on the previous year.
Singapore was selected out of various potential plant locations due to its highly skilled and reliable workforce and well-established government infrastructure. The company had collaborated with the Singapore Economic Development Board to finalise the plant location.
The plant is scheduled to become fully operational in mid-2012 pending regulatory approvals. The new plant will employ 150 personnel within three years of the opening.
Production at Alcon’s Singapore-based pharmaceutical plant
The facility in Singapore will mainly manufacture sight-saving pharmaceuticals to be distributed throughout the growing Asian markets in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
When the plant becomes operational, the company expects to manufacture at a rate of more than 53 million units a year by the end of the third year of operation.
The new plant will provide pharmaceuticals for eye infections, glaucoma, dry eyes and eye inflammation. It will produce a range of the company’s bestselling products for the expanding Asian market, including: Travatan (travoprost), Patanol (olopatadine) and Vigamox (moxifloxacin) ophthalmic solutions, Tobradex ophthalmic ointment and Systane eye drops.
In August 2008 Foster Wheeler announced that its US subsidiary, Biokinetics, and its Singapore office (both part of the Global Engineering and Construction Group), had been awarded a contract by Alcon Laboratories for the conceptual and basic design (engineering and architectural services) of the new manufacturing facility in Singapore.