Local Botox producer breaks ground for new plant

Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Taipei-based Amaran Biotechnology Inc. broke ground Monday on a plant in Hsinchu County, northern Taiwan to produce Botox, eyeing the lucrative cosmetics and medical markets. The plant, located in the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park, will develop new Botox drugs that the biotech company expects to roll out in 2020. Drugs made with Botox had a global market of US$2 billion in 2010 and the market is estimated to reach US$4.3 billion in 2018, according to Amaran. The plant has received investment totaling NT$1 billion (US$33.4 million). The plant, designed by local tycoon Samuel Yin, will feature laboratories with a biological safety level of three, the second-highest on a scale of four, where Botox can be worked with under the controls necessary to limit contamination of the work environment and the surrounding community. Yin, chairman of Ruentex Group who has a share in the biotech firm, said at the groundbreaking ceremony that he is bullish about the biotech sector but declined to reveal his share of the investment.
The investment of Thomas T.L. Wu, chairman of Taishin Financial Holding Co., was not divulged, although another of the investors present at the ceremony, OBI Pharma Chaiman Michael Chang, described it as "a fairly large share." Botox not only has applications in the cosmetics industry but can be used for drugs to treat migraine, squints, severe underarm sweating and dystonia -- sustained muscle contractions that cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures, according to Amaran. One gram of Botox can be used to produce 300 million shots, according to the company. Under a strategic alliance with OBI Pharma, a wholly owned subsidiary in Taiwan of U.S.-based Optimer Pharmaceuticals, which develops cancer and infectious disease therapies, the Hsinchu plant will also serve as a base manufacturer of breast cancer drugs for OBI Pharma. Work on the plant is scheduled to be completed in six months.
Amaran was set up in 2010 with capital of NT$300 million.
The company is the only one in Taiwan that can develop and manufacture Botox, Amaran Chairman Tessie Che said at the groundbreaking ceremony. (By Lo Hsiu-wen and Scully Hsiao)