Although many consumers know their go-to nasal spray, cold-sore gel, or psoriasis or eczema cream by a specific brand name, Montréal-based Therapex, a division of E-Z-EM Canada Inc., produces many of the liquid and semisolid pharmaceutical products that laypeople and medical professionals rely on for everything from dermatology creams to laxatives.
Therapex is a contract development and manufacturing division of the international Bracco Group, which is a leader in diagnostic imaging, medical devices, and pharmaceutical products. Bracco manufactures Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) and barium sulfate, a contrast agent, in its Therapex facility.
Now more than 40 years old, Therapex relies on 300 full-time employees who work in its 200,000-square-foot facility. The operation runs 24 hours a day, with the company manufacturing high commercial volumes of products. The facility also hosts several scientists who work on the development of new formulas and the optimization of existing formulations. The manufacturing and formulation activities are supported by full-service, in-house cGMP-compliant chemistry and microbiology laboratories.
Although Therapex services a wide variety of clients—ranging from small, virtual-biotechnology companies to large, multinational pharmaceutical companies—focusing on a niche allows the company to thrive in its industry. “Specializing in nonsterile liquids and semisolids allows us to be productive and maintain competitiveness in the marketplace,” explains Paul Salloum, vice president and general manager.
Solutions & Suspensions
Oral and topical products for a variety of needs
Therapex gains an edge by having the ability to process hard-to-handle ingredients and complex formulae. In addition, the company can operate under special conditions, which allows for the efficient production of very large quantities of prescription and over-the-counter oral and topical solutions and suspensions. To create solutions and suspensions on such a scale, Therapex maintains rigourous standards.
“Since we manufacture and ship our own products—[including] the barium-sulfate suspension—throughout the world, and we have regular clients’ audits, we constantly have to commit to a high level of quality and compliance to meet all the regulations,” Salloum says.
Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL)
Skin decontaminant that neutralizes harmful chemical agents
Therapex is known for a variety of topical creams, lotions, gels, and ointments, including sunscreens, but is known best for its groundbreaking product, RSDL, a decontaminant that treats a variety of chemical-warfare agents. Initially developed by the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces at military research labs in Alberta, RSDL is so powerful and effective that it neutralizes harmful chemical agents within only two minutes.
After initial development, the concept was licensed to Phillip O’Dell, owner of the Canadian company O’Dell Engineering, who approached E-Z-EM Canada to partner with him. Therapex was awarded a contract to develop the concept into a commercially viable product capable of meeting the strict requirements for a fielded military product.
Therapex now supplies the US Department of Defense and many other NATO militaries worldwide. RSDL is making its way into more international markets every year, with Germany being the latest country to begin stocking the product. Global sales have necessitated that the company form a dedicated group for retail of this single product.