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From Concept to Creation: University Malaya Stellar Journey with cGMP- Standards Pilot Plant Set-up

First, at its time in South-East Asia, the Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Malaya initiated a concept to construct a small-scale drug manufacturing facility on its premises in the late nineties.

It represents the unwavering dedication to innovation, excellence, and the transformative learning approach of the institution. It is a pottery tool for the students and researchers to get their theoretical knowledge melded into real solid medicine such as tablets and capsules.

This futuristic facility, which looks like a mini pharmaceutical industry, has the capacity to manufacture 30,000 tablets in an hour and to handle 20-50 kg batches.

The facility is equipped with a complete range of equipment necessary for In-Process Quality Control (IPQC) to make sure that the quality of the finished product is up to par. This pilot-scale manufacturing plant is equipped with all the essential instruments and facilities for the production of solid pharmaceuticals.

Its core is a well-thought-out organizational system that looks like a company and includes a manager, an assistant manager, a science officer, and helpers.

Through its realistic set-up, it synergized the perspective of students to know what is taught in pharmacy courses and how drugs are manufactured.

The main goal of this innovative effort is to bridge the gap between what students learn in the classroom and what they see in the workplace. Students don't always get hands-on experience during their industrial training, so this pilot plant gives them a chance to learn more about how solid dosage forms are manufactured and evaluated to produce safe, effective, and quality pharmaceuticals. This pioneering effort of the institution is a game-changer, empowering students to develop a comprehensive understanding of pharmaceutical formulation that extends beyond textbooks.

Pic 1: Handson Pilot Plant Activities by The Students of the Faculty of Pharmacy

Pic 2: List of Equipment in Pilot Plant

From Concept to Reality: Navigating Challenges and Fostering Collaborations

The establishment of this high-quality small-scale manufacturing plant was not an easy task.

In the beginning, the financial challenge was like a towering mountain. It took a lot of effort to convince the administration to build a pilot plant right on campus. This couldn’t have been possible without the efforts, dedication, hard work, and vision of the then leadership.

Moreover, in addition to the challenges, the pioneer team establishing the facility encountered the issue of manufacturing small-scale machinery locally. Undiscouraged by this obstacle, rather than surrendering to defeat, they embarked on a journey to Thailand. There, they teamed up with industry experts to design customized machinery needed for the pilot plant in accordance with the limitation of space and manpower.

Now, the pilot plant is like a shining star in the Faculty of Pharmacy, catching the attention of universities both locally and abroad. The pilot manufacturing plant is a gem for the Faculty of Pharmacy as it attracts academicians, researchers, and delegates involved in the pharmacy field. It has expanded beyond academic boundaries, becoming a worldwide centre for sharing knowledge.

Mobility students from Indonesia, Algeria, Cambodia, Sudan, Egypt, India, Netherlands, and Germany have visited the pilot plant and it is still serving even after more than two decades. Through collaboration and mobility programs, the plant has become an international hub for knowledge exchange and serving the institutional vision of becoming a globally eminent faculty in pharmacy education, research, and innovation. Thus, this innovative pilot plant is propelling the field of pharmaceutical sciences invaluably forward.

Pic 3: Mobility student from University Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

Catalysts of Empowerment: Fostering Economic Growth and Community Resilience

Pic 4: Exibition of pilot plant during the FOM Research Carnival 2023

The Faculty of Pharmacy at the Universiti Malaya has penned a new chapter in the annals of education and research with its pioneering pharmaceutical pilot plant in Malaysia.

This pilot plant stands as a bonfire of inspiration for both school students and the community, shedding light on the vital significance of pharmaceutical science and the intricate art of medicine manufacturing. Boasting an impressive capacity for tablet and capsule production, this facility will emerge as a support system during health emergencies, catering to the needs of our community and nation alike.

The faculty management has taken the necessary steps to make this facility a cGMP certified to produce medicines for commercial use in the near future.

This amazing project is more than just a good initiative that gives students a special chance to see how medicines are made. This project is like a spark that lights up interest among students towards entrepreneurship in making generic medicines and starting businesses. Also, the pilot plant helps researchers in the pharmacy to acquire expertise in the fields of good manufacturing practices and quality assurance of medicines. By bringing together different ideas and working with people from around the world, this project can turn the creative ideas of researchers from less fancy institutions into real medicines.

The scope of this pilot plant goes beyond the academics and lectures that deliver knowledge to pharmacy students. Envision a community engagement in an open-house exhibition for the pilot plant where delegates from around the world and our local community participate. Such events have always attracted schoolchildren and helped them to understand the role of the pharmacy profession in healthcare. Further, it has opened new avenues for collaborations that nurture research innovations and set the stage for economic growth. Thus, the pilot plant facility is driving the faculty toward excellence in pharmaceutical science teaching, research, and manufacturing.

All Pics: Visit from the DEAN NYCU Taiwan


Ashok Kumar Mandal

I am Ashok Kumar Mandal, from the beautiful country Nepal. Currently, I am a postgraduate student at the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia pursuing a Master of Medical Science.
My main area of study is researching new drugs to reduce the problems that obesity causes with blood vessels and how those problems affect high blood pressure. My academic interests are centered around natural product chemistry, cardiovascular research, public health, and nano-formulation for cancers, underscoring my dedication to advancing scientific knowledge in these areas.


Dr. Kumuthini Chandrasekaram, Research Officer, Universiti Malaya.

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