A £20M pharma investment boost could offer fresh hope to Honda workers.

Catalent Pharma Solutions, whose medicines are exported across the world, is looking to employ up to 100 extra people in its Blagrove factory. The multi-million pound investment will allow the firm to double production of new tablets designed to dissolve instantly in the mouth without needing to be dissolved in or taken with water.

The company said the new jobs will include semi-skilled production line roles, as well as more specialist scientists, offering hope for Honda staff.

Business leaders have called the investment a vote of confidence in Swindon, following Honda’s confirmation on Monday that it would be closing its South Marston plant by 2021.

Jenny Groves, chairman of Switch on to Swindon, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that Catalent are looking to expand their already hugely successful business in Swindon.

“This is particularly good news in light of Honda’s recent announcement.

“Swindon prides itself on being consistently one of the most innovative places in the UK and the pharmaceuticals industry generally and Catalent specifically have played a huge part in this."

“Catalent are a successful global organisation offering exciting careers for the talent in and around Swindon and we’re hugely proud they’re part of our vibrant economy.”

Ian Larrard of Business West added: “The £20 million capital investment should benefit businesses in the local supply chain, whereas the creation of 100 extra jobs is undoubtedly positive news for employment in the town."

“Furthermore, the decision demonstrates that Swindon is and will remain a well-connected, resilient and business friendly town – a place where global businesses like Catalent will continue to invest and grow.”

Coun Oliver Donachie, cabinet member place and economy at Swindon Borough Council, said: “Nobody wants to play down the significant impact of the Honda decision.

“But these type of developments do speak to the inward investment attraction of Swindon, the future of Swindon and shows, despite the Honda decision, that Swindon is a very attractive place to do business.”

While the additional jobs were good news, Coun Donachie also pointed to the company’s research and development pedigree.

Catalent Pharma Solutions will be producing pills made with a new special coating, trademarked as Zydis Ultra, that will significantly increase the dose of medication that can be incorporated within a tablet. Popular prescription drugs including Imodium, make use of the Catalent fast-dissolve technology.

Peter Allen of Catalent Swindon, said: “The medicines that we make in Swindon help patients all around the world to live better healthier lives."

Catalent’s facility employs over 650 people and manufactures 1.2 billion individual doses of medicines for patients around the world each year.