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Bioiberica and Vall Companys invest in the circular economy to produce heparin

4 May 2023

They've set up Biovall Heparin Science, a joint pharmaceutical innovation project with an investment of 25 million euros and 20 skilled jobs

Today the agri-food group Vall Companys and the pharmaceutical firm Bioiberica have presented Biovall Heparin Science, a joint business project that will enable the production of crude heparin extracted from porcine intestinal mucosa. This project, clearly focused on promoting a sustainable circular economy, is innovative because it's based on the reuse and reprocessing of a co-product of porcine origin by giving it a second useful life.

The project, which has been approved by the Mercazaragoza consortium and the local government, is notable for being the union of two leading corporations in their respective sectors. The Spanish pharmaceutical company Bioiberica is the world's major producer of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) heparin while the Vall Companys agri-food group is Europe's foremost pork producer. Such leading positions guarantee production with the highest industrial standards, maximum traceability from the mucosa to heparin and the utmost product safety and quality.

This incorporation of the new company Biovall Heparin Science forms part of the expansion of the facilities run by International Casing Products (ICP), a subsidiary of the Vall Companys Group, at in the Mercazaragoza industrial estate. A total investment of 25 million euros and the creation of 20 skilled jobs is expected to result from this expansion of ICP and the start-up of Biovall Heparin Science. Also significant is the production volume of 25,000 tonnes of mucosa per year, which would mean being able to meet Spain's total demand: 300 million doses of final product.    

The General Manager of the pork division of the Vall Companys Group, Albert Morera, noted that "the pork sector has always been known for its very high degree of circular economy. Thanks to this project, this has once again been demonstrated today, serving society with a drug that's indispensable for human health".    

For his part, the CEO of Bioiberica, Luis Solera, pointed out that "our commitment to quality and safety is demonstrated by the incorporation of Biovall Heparin Science, a project in which we consolidate production excellence throughout our value chain in Spain in favour of health and innovation".

The molecule that saves human lives

Heparin is an active pharmaceutical ingredient that's extracted from porcine intestinal mucosa. It's therefore essential to ensure traceability and quality throughout the extraction process.            

The product will be manufactured under strict GMP standards and conditions (Good Manufacturing Practices) at state-of-the-art production plants. The project as a whole, both the expansion of ICP and the start-up of BioVall, is expected to become a reality from 2025 onwards.

Spain, a benchmark in heparin production

20% of the heparin administered in the world is produced in Spain and almost 40% of the heparin consumed in Europe and the United States is produced by Bioiberica, making it a key production market for the pharmaceutical industry. This drug is one of the most important clinical products in the global industry as it's the most widely used to prevent and treat thrombosis. It has been declared an essential medicine by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is estimated to save more than 100 million lives per year.

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