Bracco Group opens Spin facility to produce contrast agent for diagnostic imaging

Milan 19 April 2002The Bracco Group's new facility, Spin, for the production of contrast agents for diagnostic imaging has been inaugurated. The new site will produce X-ray contrast media. The Bracco Group has a market share of 33 percent. The new plant will employ some 100 highly skilled technicians. This production site in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region goes alongside with the plant at Cesano Maderno in Lombardy and represents an important investment confirming the industrial and technological commitment of the Bracco Group to Italy.

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Located on the site of a former factory, the new plant was also the focus of an industrial heritage effort involving a considerable portion of the Torviscosa industrial area. The outer shell of the historic building was left intact and restored while the inside was thoroughly restructured according to the most advanced technologies.

Completed in a record time of 22 months, Spin covers a total surface area of some 26.000 square meters, including 9000 square meters of covered space, with an overall investment of more than 85 million euro. The futuristic production plant also features a 30 meter tower where the product is taken from the concentration phase through to final packaging, a new research laboratory, a separate office building, and three other warehouse and service buildings. The tower unit was built using the most advanced engineering, moving the completely pre-assembled production unit sideways into the tower.

Once on stream, the new plant will produce 450 t/year of Iomeprol, an original product of the Bracco research, and 1200 t/year of chemical intermediate for the plant at Cesano Maderno. Iomeprol, a non-ionic X-ray imaging contrast medium, has all the characteristics to become the best candidate to support evolution of Computed Tomography (CT). The focus on CT is particularly relevant because of the large diffusion of this methodology, which will be increased by the arrival of multi-slice CT. This technology will open the way to new applications, especially in the cardiological and neurological fields.

Spin is expected to start marketing its products by the end of this year, as soon as all authorisations have been obtained from the countries of destination. The Bracco Group ended 2001 with an annual turnover of 1054,3 million euro, 64 percent of which from foreign sales. Bracco is present in 115 countries and employs more than 3500 people worldwide, more than 600 of these engaged in research. In 2001, 16 percent of relevant turnover was invested in research.

The Bracco Group is currently developing an integrated approach to the whole diagnostic imaging sector which ranges from equipment manufacture - the company owns the majority stake in Esaote Group of Genoa, a manufacturer of ultrasound and medical equipment - and contrast agent delivery systems, to the latest image-processing technology. Bracco has recently acquired 100 percent of Acist Medical Systems, a United States company producing advanced contrast agent injection systems.

Bracco also develops "virtual reality" technologies which allow to plan highly complex and delicate surgery. The company recently purchased 80 percent of Volume Interactions, a Singapore company leading the field in virtual reality applications. More information on this purchase is available in the VMW March 2002 article Bracco to acquire advanced Dextroscope and Dextrobeam 3D visualisation technology from Volume Interactions.


Leslie Versweyveld

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