SWISS pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche is to set up a US$30 million factory with Shanghai San Wei Pharmaceutical Corp to make pharmaceuticals. The joint venture, to be known as Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals Co, will be 70 per cent-owned by Roche and 30 per cent by San Wei, Shanghai's largest pharmaceutical factory with which Roche has a licensing agreement. ''Roche is determined to make China a strong and important component of our international operations,'' said Dr A. F. Leuenberger, vice-chairman of Roche, at the signing ceremony in Shanghai yesterday. He said the venture was an important milestone for Roche, whose business in China had started in 1924 but had only regained its business momentum in the late 1970s. Dr Leuenberger said Roche was pursuing several co-operative projects with Chinese partners. The factory, to be in Shanghai's Zhangjiang high-technology zone in the Pudong industrial area, would not only meet China's open-door policy but also contribute to the development of the drugs industry in China, Dr Leuenberger said. It would begin full operations by late 1996, making products such as anti-cancer and cardiovascular drugs, antibiotics and multi-vitamins in line with the highest international Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, he said. Dr Leuenberger said the advanced technology used at the plant would help to improve China's standard of drug production. William Keller, managing director of Roche Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals, the group's regional headquarters in the Far East, said the advanced technology in the initial phase would include installation of a state-of-the-art filling station - the first ofits kind in China - for production of the biotechnology product Foferon-A, which is used to treat chronic hepatitis B and C. ''The main products to be manufactured by the joint-venture factory are high technology medicines from Roche. We are convinced that these products will have huge potential markets in China,'' he said. Mr Keller said the factory would produce five kinds of prescription drugs and three kinds of over-the-counter drugs in the initial stage. The factory would have the capacity to make 1.5 billion tablets, 50 million capsules and 30 million injections in its first year of operation. Mr Keller said that, before the factory was completed, Roche would help upgrade production facilities at San Wei's plant to process some products of the joint venture. These would be sold under the joint venture trademark between 1994 and 1996. Roche, which is based in Basle, Switzerland, will also train San Wei technicians in GMP and manufacturing processes. It has worked with San Wei since 1986. Last year, San Wei, which produces about 100 types of pharmaceutical products, reported sales of 300 million yuan (about HK$264 million) and after-tax profits of 20 million yuan. Exports for the same year were worth US$26 million. Roche group sales amounted to 10.7 billion Swiss francs (about HK$56 billion) for the first nine months of 1993, up 11 per cent from the previous corresponding period.