Virginia is emerging as a hotspot for pharmaceutical manufacturing, attracting a growing number of industry players. The privately-held pharma manufacturing organizations Civica and Phlow have a presence in the state, as do Big Pharma heavyweight Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) and AMPAC Fine Chemicals (NYSE:AMPA). The latter company produces active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates for the pharma and biotech industries. Additionally, Granules Pharmaceuticals (NSE:GRANULES) recently opened a new packaging and distribution facility near Manassas in northern Virginia.
Civica’s plan to manufacture insulin for California represents another pharmaceutical manufacturing milestone for the Commonwealth.
Major players establishing presence in Virginia’s pharma sector
The state’s life sciences sector has “gained significant momentum in recent years,” according to Suzanne Clark, a spokesperson for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and managing director of communications. In particular, the state has seen “20 life sciences industry projects announced in just the past three years, representing more than 1,400 jobs and $1.2 billion in investment,” she said.
Clark also noted that Phlow and the Richmond, Virginia–based research institute Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) joined forces in 2020, aiming to improve global accessibility to essential medicines. Clark mentioned, “An essential medicines collaboration began in Virginia in 2020 with the establishment of Phlow, a public benefit corporation affiliated with the Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) College of Engineering.” Richmond is now one of the top places in the country working to reduce prescription drug costs, thanks to this partnership, Clark said.
Haleon also has a presence in Richmond, Virginia.
Furthermore, Civica, AMPAC, Phlow and M4ALL are collaborating, resulting in an increased pharma footprint in Petersburg, Virginia. “In January 2021, Civica announced plans to establish a 140,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility to manufacture sterile injectable drugs in Petersburg, adjacent to Phlow’s future operation and AMPAC’s existing facility,” Clark said. The companies will be working together to produce affordable insulins.
Collaborative efforts and investments fueling life sciences growth
Virginia is also attracted a substantial sum of government funding. In 2021, Phlow won a $354 million contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to produce essential medicines for the Strategic National Stockpile. The funding will also support the launch of the first Strategic Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Reserve (SAPIR) to furnish a long-term supply of the vital ingredients used to manufacture essential medicines.
Last year, President Biden awarded Virginia $52.9 million as a winner of the Build Back Better Regional challenge for Biotechnology and Health. This funding will help support infrastructure, workforce development, and the regional supply chain.
The state is also home to the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, which is working to develop innovative recruitment and training strategies that accelerate the start-up of new operations.
Moreover, Granules Pharmaceuticals recently opened a new packaging and distribution facility in the state. The company is bringing previously outsourced services back to the U.S., which is a testament to Virginia’s infrastructure and robust workforce, Clark said.
In the past year, Virginia has announced the following initiatives across the state:
- Engineered Biopharmaceuticals: $6.1 million expansion in Danville.
- PS Fertility: $1.4 million operation in Albemarle County.
- Granules Pharmaceuticals: $12.5 million packaging operation in Prince William County.
- Civica: $27.8 million laboratory testing facility in Chesterfield County.
- Virongy Biosciences: $471,000 expansion in Prince William County.
- Bode Technology: Viral diagnostic technologies expansion in Prince William County.
- Thermo Fisher: $97 million bioanalytical laboratory expansion in Greater Richmond region.
Virginia has established its significance in domestic drug manufacturing, contributing to the stability of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.
“Virginia has a strong track record of bringing together industry, education, and government to collectively work toward solving the most pressing medical issues and training the workforce to advance these developments,” Clark concluded.
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