Wrapsa, South Africa’s largest pharmaceutical contract-manufacturer, have recently announced the R80 million refurbishment of their 13 000m² manufacturing plant in Centurion, Gauteng. The refurbishment, which was initiated in July 2007, is set to be completed at the end of 2014.

“In July 2007, South Africa became the 2nd developing country to join the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention, and Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (jointly referred to as PIC/S). PIC/S has been instrumental in ensuring that all participating countries operate within the same international-level of standards. PIC/S currently has 43 member countries internationally and enforce standards that include training and inspection formats, among many other strict guidelines, which are vital for compliance to the international field of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). Founder and CEO of Wrapsa, Nardus Alberts, said, “The initiation of South Africa’s PIC/S membership meant that the whole infrastructure of the country’s pharmaceutical manufacturing industry had to be examined.”

Wrapsa has become a world-class contract manufacturer as a result of the various upgrades to their systems, have increased their foothold in the market at large due to this sizeable investment in their capabilities. “Being the largest of a handful of companies that will be able to meet PIC/S’ stringent standards, we will achieve a superior positioning as the South African supplier of choice to many major international pharmaceutical brands and organisations. For consumers, this will provide the priceless benefit of being able to rely on the safety of pharmaceutical and toiletry products,” said Alberts.

Wrapsa currently employs a workforce of ± 500, many of whom are highly skilled. “For us, training has been a daily exercise, and taken very seriously by all members of the company. Once the facility upgrades were initiated, we incorporated all the necessary skills elements into the programme,” said Alberts. “The reaction to the various changes and newly laid-out standards has been enthusiastic. It is great for us to be able to move forward and advance our organisation, but the training also creates highly valuable learning opportunities to increase skill levels and understandings.”

“The primary area of refurbishment is air handling within our manufacturing facilities. Years ago, strict air flow control and handling was only applied for the manufacturing of highly sterile products. PIC/S have implemented a standard which states that, in any pharmaceutical manufacturing scenario, it is required to minimize cross-contamination of the air within a facility,” said Alberts. “Each type of product needs to be separated and isolated individually, within an air-controlled environment. Wrapsa have installed world-class Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as implemented the correct procedures for operating the system.

Another major on-going part of the refurbishment costs, is the running and maintenance of the new facilities and operational systems. The upgraded processes in place require in-depth training, with regular updates, as well as a large volume of electricity to power the technical elements within the plant.

Since the start of the PIC/S programme in South Africa, Wrapsa has been cognisant of the importance and implications of manufacturing standards in the pharmaceutical industry. “This type of activity is a dynamic, on-going process that takes sustained investment. It is not a once-off exercise. That is why we decided to invest in these upgrades- we believe that our compliance will be worth the cost, both for our business and our customers,” Alberts concludes.

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