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Hemas Holdings start Sri Lanka pharma plant to make five billion pills

ECONOMYNEXT – Morison Plc, a unit of Colombo-based Hemas Holdings Plc, has opened an 18.5 million dollar pharmaceuticals plant which can make 5 billion pills a year, which the firm says can supply 20 percent of consumption in the country, officials said.

Morison Plc, which was bought by Sri Lanka’s Hemas Holdings in 2013, claims to be the largest oral solid pharmaceutical manufacturer in Sri Lanka.

The 18.5 million dollar plant was built collaborating with the Sri Lanka Institute of Nano Technology, a science park operated as a public private partnership.

“After we purchase Morison in 2014 we thought about ways we can make this a global standard,” Hemas Holdings, Group Chief Executive Officer, Kasturi Wilson said after the plant was ceremonially opened by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“We realized we needed two things; which are quality and new science. We went ahead with the investment for the infrastructure to achieve the required quality and for new science we partnered with the SLINTEC.”

The plant is located in a five acre plot within the Sri Lankan Nano Technology Park in Pitipana, Homagama.

It has the capacity to produce 5 billion tablets, 240 million capsules and 10 million of 100 milliliter bottles a year.

The plant will make vitamins, anti-hypertensive drugs, anti-diabetic drugs, lipid lowering drugs, Nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, anti-asthmatic drugs and Diuretics.

The plant currently manufactures validation batches and expects to commence commercial production in 2021.

“At the moment, we are doing validation trials,” Morison PLC, Managing Director, Murtaza Esufally said.

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“In pharmaceuticals, you have to validate batch. We can hit 20 percent of the local need by 2022 or later than that. It depends on the orders we get.”

“But we can start supplying it for local market probably from April. They have already done the pre-audit.”

“Our partnership with SLINTEC will advance our strides in formulation research through the deployment of Nano and advanced technology”.

The drug plant is supported by a buy-back agreement from the government, which operates a tax-payer funded hospital with free treatment.

The firm is also looking at partnering with global pharma firms.

“The investment of 18.5 million US dollars is supported through the guaranteed buy back agreements that will help us to build economies of scale and be more competitive in the global market,” Esufally said.

“We at Morison continue to look forward to delivering the highest quality products by partnering with global pharmaceutical leaders, with whom Hemas is privileged to have strong, legacy relationships.”

“We will explore this new phase of growth in conformance with global protocols and regulations, through the formulation of new products and the development of opportunities in new markets.”

The factory will employ 250 persons and 117 will be university graduates.

Minister Bandula Gunawardana said Sri Lanka spends 130 billion rupees for medicine annually, of which 85 percent is imported.

Morison produces 75 different formulations of medicine and intends to grow that portfolio in the coming years, especially in non-communicable diseases.

The new plant is designed for minimum human intervention to prevent human error with automated liquid manufacturing and packing lines, the company said.

It has chemical and microbiology labs, separate air handling units to control environment conditions and is supported by Enterprise Resource Planning software.

The plant also has the first zero liquid discharge waste water systems in the country.

“We have seen our counter parts in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore Taiwan and Korea having thriving pharmaceutical industries.” Esufally said. “We also should aim for a stronger manufacturing industry.” (Colombo/ October 02/2020)