You may wish for an antacid as you wait in line to enter Cape Henlopen State Park on a peak day in the summer and not realize that you’re sitting in front of the world’s leading supplier of antacid actives. For more than 50 years, SPI Pharma has manufactured antacids, mineral supplements and digestive aids at this site in Lewes, producing more than 4 billion bottles of medicine in its history.
The location is no accident. SPI Pharma manufactures products such as magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide gels and powders, harvesting minerals from seawater to make many of its compounds. The company scrapes the sea bottom near Breakwater Harbor, processes the water and sediment and then returns the treated water back to the bay. SPI Pharma processes and sells the ingredients they manufacture to other pharmaceutical manufacturers, who use them to make the final products. Those are the ones with familiar names like Mylanta.
There was once a helicopter pad on the front lawn of the manufacturing plant and just a strip of land between the building and the water. Helicopters no longer land there, and the strip of land has become the Cape Shores community, but SPI Pharma continues to use its Lewes facility to help settle stomachs worldwide.