In January 2003, the Degussa Fine Chemicals Business Unit of Degussa AG, Dusseldorf, Germany, began construction of a new plant for the pharmaceutical amino acid L-methionine in Wuming, in southern China. Planned to start in the first quarter of 2004, the plant will have an annual capacity of about 350 tons. Nanning Only Time Rexim Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., - the joint venture established between Degussa Fine Chemicals and Nanning Only Time Pharmaceuticals for the production and marketing of pharmaceutical intermediates in April 2001 - will operate the plant. Degussa, through its wholly owned subsidiary Rexim S. A., Courbevoie, France, owns 95 percent of the joint venture, which had 220 employees and sales of about EUR 4 million in fiscal 2002. The new plant in Wuming will create more than 30 additional jobs.
Pharmaceutical amino acids are used especially in parenteral solutions and dietetic supplements and as enantiomerically pure building blocks for pharmaceutical and agrochemical active ingredients. China is considered the most important market for these products because of established treatment methods and the large population.
Degussa through its subsidiary Rexim is the world's second largest supplier of pharmaceutical amino acids and the market leader in L-methionine. "In the new plant we will produce L-methionine using state-of-the-art technology - enzymatic resolution - in a very attractive market environment," said Dr. Peter Nagler, president of the Fine Chemicals business unit. "This plant will strengthen our position in L-methionine as well as our presence in the growing Asian region."
Fine Chemicals is the only producer in the world that uses all the essential technologies for the production of pharmaceutical amino acids: ion-exchange chromatography as well as enzymatic, chemical and fermentation processes.
The L-methionine plant is already the second plant that Fine Chemicals has under construction in China in two years. As part of its Asian strategy, the Joint Venture of Nanning Only Time Rexim Pharmaceuticals is currently also building a state-of-the art cGMP purification plant that can process 500 metric tons a year of amino acids for parenteral solutions. This plant will start up in mid-2003. All told, Degussa Fine Chemicals has invested significantly more than EUR 25 million in the joint venture.