Pfizer will invest an additional $500 million and add 300 more jobs to increase manufacturing capability at its newly completed gene therapy plant on its 230-acre campus in Sanford, NC. The expansion comes two years after the pharmaceutical company started an expansion of its Lee County vaccine-manufacturing plant with a $100 million investment in gene therapy manufacturing that added 40 jobs to what is now a 650-person workforce.
The site’s increasing focus on gene therapy involves a transformational technology that uses highly specialized, one-time treatments to address the root cause of diseases caused by genetic mutation. It infuses genetic material into the body to deliver a correct copy of a gene to a patient’s cells to compensate for a defective or missing gene.
“At Pfizer, our purpose is breakthroughs that change patients’ lives,” said Angela Hwang, group president of Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, in a Sanford ceremony unveiling the investment. “We’re excited to build this new state-of-the-art facility in Sanford because it will have the potential to help us develop novel methods to deliver transformative treatments to patients.”
Mike McDermott, president of Pfizer Global Supply, added, “This investment will further strengthen Pfizer’s leadership in gene therapy manufacturing technology. The expansion of the Sanford site is expected to create hundreds of highly skilled jobs, which would increase Sanford’s high-tech manufacturing environment and is part of our overall plan to invest approximately $5 billion in U.S.-based capital projects over the next several years.”
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper joined in celebrating Pfizer’s expansion decision, noting that “North Carolina is a leader in life sciences in part because of our long-standing partnership with Pfizer. Today we mark another boost to our state and we are proud of the people conducting life-saving research in Sanford.”
Pfizer is expanding its end-to-end capabilities in gene therapy in North Carolina by investing in facilities focused on all stages of research, development, and manufacturing.
Pfizer has invested $4 million into a multi-year academic fellowship program to support postdoctoral research fellowships in gene therapy at university laboratories in the state. The program is managed by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, which has been a behind-the-scenes facilitator for the state’s gene therapy boom since the beginning.
In addition, Pfizer has been expanding a drug-manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount that it acquired from Hospira in 2015. That $190 million project adds 65,000 square feet of sterile injectable facilities to a plant that employs about 300 people.
Pfizer’s main gene therapy attraction to North Carolina was Bamboo Therapeutics, a Chapel Hill-based gene therapy company, which Pfizer purchased in 2016 for $150 million up-front, plus another $495 million in potential milestone payments.
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