Five minutes with…
Christian Jones, Commercial Director for Custom Pharma Solutions, Europe, Johnson Matthey
Chemistry Today: What are the latest developments at Johnson Matthey?
Jones: This year the company celebrates its 200th anniversary, since Percival Norton Johnson founded the company in 1817. This is hugely significant for our organization, as there are not many companies in our space with this heritage. We have managed to evolve over this period by using technology as a core foundation to enable solutions. This year we have created a refreshed brand identity focused on ‘inspiring science, enhancing life’. Our operations are aligned to fit into our market-focused activities: clean air, health, efficient use of natural resources and new markets.
CT: In which markets are you planning to expand?
Jones: Together with our focus on improving the quality of air and the environment through using smart catalytic technologies, our Health Sector plays a vital role in enabling JM to help create a healthier world. However, there are many further areas where our technologies can be applied, which is the role of our New Markets sector. For example, we recently acquired a company that has membrane technology used to control the environment and gas exchange for fruits and vegetables, to conserve them. We continually look for where technologies applicable in one market can also be applied elsewhere.
CT: You have a strong presence in the catalysis field. How do you see the future there?
Jones: JM is a world leader in the field of catalysis and whilst historically has been focused on developing and offering a wide variety of chemo catalytic technologies, in recent years JM has expanded and invested into the area of biocatalysis. This depth and breadth of offer in catalysis sets JM apart from its competitors. What we want to offer our clients and partners is the right solution, not a solution biased towards one offering and we feel confident that having a breadth of catalytic technologies positons us perfectly to screen all areas of catalytic space to identify and develop the best value for our partners. Catalysis plays a key role in pharmaceutical development and our pharma partners value the integration of these technologies into our API development offering as it ensures development of the most robust, efficient and scalable chemistry routes.
CT: What about flow chemistry?
Jones: It is certainly an area that we are interested in as we have vast experience of building flow plants for the commodity chemical’s industry. We believe there is great potential to apply this skill set for pharmaceuticals. Understanding the best way of approaching it is quite challenging however. For example, some companies may want to use microreactors, whereas others could favour flow reactors. I do not believe there is a single answer when it comes to flow as the solution is often process specific, instead it is important to have all possible tools in your tool kit. At the moment we are evaluating a number of options to look at this and you are likely to hear more from us in this area in due course.
CT: You offer a range of controlled substances. Can you tell us about the challenges and opportunities for this type of product?
Jones: We are one of the main controlled substance providers globally. One of the biggest challenges with entering and participating in this area is security. Johnson Matthey has a long history of handling precious metals, which require a high degree of security and controls. So the controlled substance space was a good fit for us, and we were able to apply expertise for the manufacture and distribution of these materials. We have two facilities in Scotland, one in Edinburgh from the acquisition of Macfarlan Smith in 2001 and a further facility in Annan on the east coast, which was acquired in 2014. These facilities complement our US controlled substance businesses, which provides us with our global reach for these tightly regulated products.
CT: What does Johnson Matthey offer that no one else can do?
Jones: As a 200-year old and FTSE100 company we are financially stable, which reduces risk for our customers. Furthermore, we have a significant focus on sustainability in terms of profitability, health and safety, environment, social and governance. These are all measurable and reported annually. Quality is key to all our pharmaceutical operations. Technology is at the centre of our offering to the pharmaceutical industry, where we offer real added value through the science and capabilities that we have in API manufacturing. Delivering value by improving the synthesis of customer’s molecules by using our technologies, whether that’s catalysis, crystallization or particle engineering. We are seen as a technology partner of choice.