Increased demand for powder inhalers and non-CFC aerosol inhaler valves made of plastic means health-care-device manufacturer Bespak plc will double investment in the United Kingdom to expand production capacity.
Bespak of King's Lynn, England, which has two U.S. subsidiaries, spent £6.8 million ($11.3 million) last year to raise output, in particular for Glaxo Wellcome's asthma drug dispenser Accuhaler, including the addition of more than 10 new Mannesman Demag injection presses.
This year Bespak plans to invest £13 million ($21.7 million) overall. New lines at King's Lynn for additional production of powder inhalers and valves will account for investment totaling £8 million ($13.4 million), according to Peter Chambré, chief executive officer.
The investment, according to a statement issued with Bespak's preliminary 1996-97 year-end financial results, is part of a substantial three-year program beginning this year. The company may install an additional 15 injection presses in the third year of the program.
Bespak has been working with valve customers to switch from chlorofluorocarbons to new propellants for metered-dose asthma inhalers. In the coming year, the firm will install new clean-room manufacturing facilities to support the launch of a new valve range.
In the United States, Bespak has two subsidiaries: drug delivery device molder Bespak Inc. of Cary, N.C., and Tenax Corp. of Danbury, Conn., which produces assemblies and components for medical devices.
Tenax, which has been losing money, has undergone major restructuring since 1995, cutting its work force by 20 percent and focusing on quality service with fewer customers, according to Bespak. Tenax saw sales drop 9 percent to £14.2 million ($23.7 million), but, although it saw a small loss in 1996, Tenax was back in the black in the second half.
Bespak Inc., with two plants in North Carolina, recorded improved margins on drug-delivery devices after improving efficiency. Even so, its device sales declined by 10 percent during the year. The firm achieved overall sales similar to the previous year at £16.3 million ($27.2 million).
In two or three years, Bespak is due to start spending substantially in the United States, particularly at Bespak Inc., on drug-delivery programs, Chambré said.
The King's Lynn company has more than 100 injection molding machines, chiefly Demag presses with clamping forces of 100-200 tons.
Bespak reported that total sales increased 2 percent, to £77.7 million ($129.8 million) with pretax profit up 26 percent to £11 million ($18.4 million).