Production of active substances


production-actifs.jpgSpread across four production sites, Pierre Fabre develops and produces active substances of plant, animal or synthetic origin for the pharmaceutical, cosmetical and nutraceutical sectors. For this, the group relies on up-to-date technological and industrial expertise such as extraction, hemisynthesis, chemical synthesis, cytotoxic production, plant cell cultures and supercritical fluids. In terms of active substances, Pierre Fabre’s expertise is recognized in the development and production of cytotoxic products as well as in the extraction and purification of natural active substances from plant-based raw materials by means of hemisynthesis.

Our innovative industrial approach is geared towards the full satisfaction of clients and interested parties, while making no compromise on regulations and addressing the growing challenges of sustainable development.



35 years of experience in plant extraction

Our factory at Gaillac (Tarn, France) benefits from more than 35 years of experience in plant extraction, including mastery of the entire process from cultivation of the plant to the production of its extract. We indeed produce more than 80 high-quality standard products. Our extraction chain, with a capacity of 1,000 kg/h, operates continuously, which enables us to optimize our extraction and purification capacity.

The continuous extraction process is based on so-called “counter-current” technology. The plant is moved from one end of the extractor to the other using an endless screw, in the opposite direction from the solvent whose extraction power becomes increasingly stronger. Thus the plant is initially in contact with a solvent that is rich in the active substance. As the plant moves through the extractor, it comes into contact with a solvent that is increasingly poor in the active substance, and the extraction power is therefore higher. The advantage of this technology is to improve the productivity of the operation and therefore to minimize production costs. The solvent that evaporates at the end of the chain can be recycled and thus reused. This technique provides better control of the product in terms of quality and consistency.




The complexity of mixtures obtained by extracting natural products (plants or marine organisms) has led to the acquisition and development of increasingly efficient industrial purification procedures.


High-Performance Liquid Chromatography

Purification by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is an up-to-date industrial technology used during manufacturing at our Gaillac site. Equipped with four industrial-scale columns with an internal diameter of 80 to 450 mm, the site can adapt its HPLC purification capacity to any pharmaceutical batch size.


Purification by ultrafiltration (UF) makes it possible to separate molecules according to their molecular weight by using a membrane separation procedure. Low-molecular-weight molecules cross the membrane as its pores are small enough to retain high-molecular-weight substances. The separation system can be adjusted by changing the size of the membrane pores (from 0.001 to 0.1 microns).


cytotoxiques.jpgGuaranteeing the safety of operators and our environment

The handling of cytotoxic (chemotherapy) products requires important precautions due to their high activity. At Gaillac, a production workshop is therefore completely dedicated to the synthesis of these products. This restricted-access workshop guarantees the safety of operators and our environment. This particular knowledge in the handling of highly active products has made it possible to set up an industrial fluorination unit in superacidic conditions at low temperatures. It is in this unit that vinflunine, the active substance derived from the tropical periwinkle grown in Madagascar, undergoes synthesis for our new anti-cancer drug Javlor®.