Eli Lilly and partner Novast Laboratories have begun the expansion of manufacturing and development facility capacities in Nantong, Jiangsu, China.

The move extends a partnership signed in 2012 whereby Novast is creating " a platform of Lilly-branded generic medicines". The expansion will involve the addition of a 260,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, enabling the production of both sustained-release and containment solid oral dosage prescription pharmaceuticals with an annual additional capacity of more than 2.2 billion units.

Lilly plans to invest $60-70 million into the site and construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. When the facility becomes fully operational, more than 350 highly skilled additional jobs will be created.  

Guohua Zhang, chief executive at Novast, said the new facility marks a new chapter for the firm "as we are transitioning from commercialising quality prescription products in the USA to focusing on catering the same to the China domestic needs.

Alfonso Zulueta, head of emerging markets at Lilly, said "we are focused on providing patients with innovative medicines from our own pipeline, as well as select Lilly-branded generic medicines" that meet the company's global quality standards. The additional manufacturing capabilities provided by Novast "will allow us to better deliver on that strategy", he concluded.