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Jobs boost as drugs plant start-up ahead of schedule

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By Rod Edgar
Annan and Eskdale

JOBS are being created faster than expected at a rescued pharmaceutical factory near Annan.

Johnson Matthey are making an £11 million investment at the former Bakhu Pharma site at Newbie in the first two years, and have already taken on more posts than expected.
Debra Boni, human resources director of Johnson Matthey’s Edinburgh based subsidiary Macfarlan Smith, said: “We’re progressing with the plant to get it ready, and progressing with our recruitment plans which will continue for the remainder of this year — increasing head count.”
Recruitment began at the start of the year, and Ms Boni added: “We thought we would be at about 20-odd, and we’re at 30-odd. So we’re escalating our recruitment plans. They’re going quicker.”
Addressing the quality of applicants so far, Ms Boni said: “I think we’ve been quite lucky, and made some quite good production, manufacturing, security and some technical appointments.”
The purchase of the Newbie site was concluded in November 2014, after Bakhu Pharma had entered administration in October.
The move was prompted by a bid for expansion in the UK, and initial work was to be focused on the control system, structural work, new boilers, cooling towers and a requalifying of the site.

And an initial engineering team of about 20 people was expected to be required, rising to staffing numbers in the 40s by the end of 2015 and up to 110 in about three years’ time.
Ms Boni said: “We’re progressing the site to be ready for production sometime next year.”
Addressing suggestions that methadone will be produced on site,Ms Boni acknowledges that this is currently produced at the Edinburgh site.
However, looking to Newbie, she said: “We’re reviewing what products we will manufacture. Definitely not methadone, that’s for sure.
“But at the moment that’s as much as I can say because we haven’t communicated anything to customers.”

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