Abbott Laboratories Invests $60 Million, Expects 500 New Jobs In Malaysia

Published: Sep 11, 2014

Abbott Laboratories Invests $60M, Expects 500 New Jobs in Malaysia

September 11, 2014

By Jessica Wilson, Breaking News Staff

Abbott Laboratories , the Chicago-based pharmaceutical company, has broken ground on a $60-million facility in Kulim, Malaysia where the company will manufacture its intraocular lens (IOLs) products used to treat cataracts. The facility is expected to employ 500 workers, with operations slated to begin in 2015, according to Diane Beno, Abbott Medical Optics divisional vice president of global operations.

“The facility will provide high-quality, dependable products, helping people maintain active, healthy lifestyles with clearer vision after cataract surgery said Beno, speaking to reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony.

Addressing the location choice, she said, “We chose Malaysia, and specifically Kedah and Kulim Hi-Tech Park, because of the availability of skilled workers and the infrastructure.” The facility is Abbott’s first foray into capital investment in Malaysia and the next step in the company’s effort to expand its global presence.

Cataract surgeries are growing in number worldwide. Beno explained that the number of surgeries performed is forecast to increase almost 20 percent between now and 2019, from 22.7 million this year to 27.1 million in five years. The Malaysia facility will help supply this growing global IOLs market.

“Absolutely, we can see the growing trend for IOLs. To support this growth, Abbott needs this new facility, and the land covering 8.64ha will provide the needs for the short- and long-term,” Beno said. She also emphasized that Abbot will employ the same technology the company uses in its manufacturing plants in Anasco, Puerto Rico and Groningen, The Netherlands, which will ensure the quality of the IOLs produced in Kulim.

Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP) opened in 1996 as the first Hi-Tech Park in Malaysia and currently spreads over 1,700 hectares. The park was designed and built to attract capital-intensive, technology-related industries in the fields of advanced electronics, mechanical electronics, telecommunications, semiconductors, optoelectronics, biotechnology, advanced materials, research and development and emerging technologies.

The facilities available to biotechnology ventures likely attracted Abbott for the manufacture of its IOLs, the key component in all cataract surgeries. According to the American Optometric Association, the primary treatment for a cataract, or the clouding the lens of the eye, is surgery.

During cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL), which is permanent and requires no additional care. The IOL focuses light onto the back of the eye in order to improve vision. The newer IOLs can even “simulate the natural focusing ability of a young lens,” so the patient gains clearer vision on two fronts.

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