MEDICAL DEVICE MAKER BESPAK ADDING CAPACITY

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Bespak plc, fresh off restructuring its U.S. and United Kingdom molding operations, is expanding its main complex in King's Lynn, England.

The pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer has two U.S. subsidiaries: injection molders Tenax Corp. of Danbury, Conn., and Bespak Inc. of Cary, N.C.

Bespak plc will invest £6.5 million ($10.8 million) to expand capacity to manufacture a dry powder inhaler in King's Lynn. The project includes refurbishing existing operating space, enlarging clean room capacity and adding an undisclosed number of Demag injection presses.

Bespak has seen United Kingdom sales of drug-delivery devices expand by 96 percent to £7.5 million ($12.5 million) in the first half of fiscal 1996. This has been due largely to its exclusive manufacture of Glaxo Wellcome's asthma drug dispenser Accuhaler. The plastic device consists of 14 injection molded components, eight of them made from Hoechst's acetal copolymer Hostaform.

According to the company, such drug-delivery devices offer it the best opportunity for new growth.

Bespak plans to further expand manufacturing at King's Lynn by 1998 with a new investment of about £2.5 million ($4.15 million), according to Chief Executive Officer Peter Chambré.

Bespak has divided its United Kingdom business into three major business units concentrating on pharmaceutical metering valves, drug-delivery devices and personal-care products.

Overall, the British company reported that sales increased by 10 percent to £39.4 million ($65.4 million) and pretax profit rose by 43 percent to £5 million ($8.3 million) for the first six months of the current fiscal year.

U.S. sales rose 11.3 percent to £16.9 million ($28.1 million), although operating profit was down from £500,000 ($830,000) to just £300,000 ($498,000).

Bespak Inc., which serves major U.S. pharmaceutical firms, raised sales by 46 percent to £10 million (US$16.6 million). It has annual sales of about £20 million (US$33.2 million).

Tenax, which placed 74th in Plastics News' 1996 ranking of North American injection molders, has annual sales of about £15 million (US$24.9 million).

It saw first-half sales drop 17 percent to about £7 million (US$11.62 million), resulting from a major customer's delayed product launch.