AstraZeneca has been pouring money into its Australian manufacturing site as demand for its respiratory meds has grown in China and elsewhere. Now, the company is again pumping up its investment.
The drugmaker has pledged 200 million Australian dollars ($133 million) to expand its facility in Sydney suburb North Ryde, New South Wales, following hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in recent years. The expansion will create 250 new jobs and increase the site’s annual exports to AU$4.4 billion over the next four years.
This expansion follows the company’s AU$100 million ($67 million) investment back in 2017 to grow the site. Before that, the company had spent the same amount on the facility in prior years, AZ CEO Pascal Soriot said at the time. And this week’s news closely follows a $520 million investment into R&D and manufacturing in France.
In Australia, the new investment will “allow us to bring more life-changing respiratory medicines” to patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Soriot said in a statement.
AstraZeneca employs more than 1,000 people in Australia and New Zealand. Aside from the manufacturing operation, the company has an on-site commercial organization that spans corporate affairs, distribution, finance, marketing and more.
The Sydney site delivers medicines to Australia, Asia-Pacific countries and other markets globally. AZ has operated in Australia for more than 60 years.
Along with the expansion, AstraZeneca unveiled an effort to plant 25 million in trees in Australia following devastating bushfires. Globally, the company aims to plant 50 million trees.
AZ pledged its 2017 investment there as demand for respiratory products was surging in China due to urban air pollution and high smoking rates. At the time, 90% of the products made at the site were shipped to China.
The company invested in Sydney despite lower labor costs in China because technology at the Australian plant is “difficult to replicate,” a spokesman said at the time. Soriot has called the Sydney site AstraZeneca’s “centre of excellence for the world.”
Along with other pharma companies, AstraZeneca has made growing its business in China a priority. In the first nine months of 2019, the key market represented 21% of AstraZeneca’s global revenues. In the third quarter alone, China sales grew 40% at constant exchange rates over the same period in 2018. AstraZeneca hasn’t yet reported full-year 2019 results.