If you want to see the best in biomanufacturing, you need to visit North Carolina.

That’s the message from experts at the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, in conjunction with INTERPHEX and Pharmaceutical Processing magazine, whose experts select the six top factories around the world for Facility of the Year Awards.

Biogen Idec’s game-leading Flexible Volume Manufacturing facility at its Research Triangle Park campus won the top spot in the category of “facility integration.”

Down the road, in Holly Springs, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics took the top honor in the category of “process innovation” with its amazing flu cell culture facility that is changing the way vaccines are produced.

Merck’s Durham vaccine plant won the facility integration award last year, and this year its sister plant in Carlow, Ireland won an award for operational excellence.

Biogen’s facility produces treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia and autoimmune disorders. It’s unusually efficient because it incorporates large- and small-scale production equipment and traditional fixed-batch and newer single-use packaging technologies. That flexibility lets the company meet market demand with unusual speed and safety.

Machelle Sanders, Biogen’s vice president, Manufacturing and general manager of the RTP site, described the company’s efforts that led to the recognition.

“Over the past few years, we have been making deliberate investments to add increased flexibility to the RTP site to support our growing pipeline,” she said. “Adding the end-to-end disposable capabilities of the FVM to our state-of-the-art stainless facilities truly represents a cutting-edge integration approach that differentiates Biogen Idec from many other companies.”

Jorg Thommes, vice president of Global Engineering & Facilities, called the award “a real honor.”

“We are pleased that the judging panel recognized value that the FVM facility provides Biogen Idec’s global drug supply network and its ability to support our pipeline,” he added.

The other three winners in the 2013 ninth annual competition are:

  • F. Hoffmann – La Roche, for “project execution” for one of its new buildings in Basel, Switzerland.
  • MedImmune, for “equipment innovation” based on an automation upgrade project in Speke, Liverpool, England.
  • Morphotek, for “sustainability” for a pilot plant in Exton, Pennsylvania.

The annual awards program recognizes state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing projects that use new and innovative technologies to enhance the delivery of a superior product, as well as reduce the cost of producing high-quality medicines.

(C) NC Biotech Center

Editor’s note: Jim Shamp is Director of Public Relations for the N.C. Biotechnology Center. He writes and edits news and other web copy, brochures and other internal and external Biotechnology Center materials, and supports the Corporate Communications unit’s marketing and media relations activities.