Even as the pharmaceutical industry hunkers down by cutting jobs, closing plants and eliminating research projects, there are areas where some growth occurs. And one example appears to be construction on plants and research centers across North America, at least according to research compiled byIndustrial Info Resources, a research firm that tracks construction projects.
In a recent report, IIR talled 85 facilities that were completed last year by drug and device makers, biotechs, diagnostics companies and government-backed research centers, including incubators. These projects represented a potential total investment value of $7.1 billion, which includes both original construction costs and possible future phases that are already planned or under consideration.
This is up from the 76 that opened in 2009 and total investment value rose 25 percent to $7.1 billion, up from $5.7 billion. The average total investment value, by the way, was $82.5 million, up from $75 million in 2009. The projects include both grassroot facilities and major building additions to existing sites. A caveat: Of course, the tally does not take into account plants and other facilities that were closed last year, so the numbers should not suggest there is a net gain on an industrywide basis.
Among the notable projects - a $1 billion vaccine plant that Novartis built in Holly Springs, North Carolina (see photo), and Cannabis Science, which is in the medical marijuana business, is investing $2.5 million to renovate more than 7,500 square feet for an expanded research center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Other projects included a plant Dendreon hopes to open in Atlanta to produce the Provenge prostate cancer vaccine; Medco Health, the pharmacy benefits manager, opened a distribution site in Whitestown, Indiana; and Eli Lilly worked on an animal health research center in Greenfield, Indiana. Work was also undertaken by Sanofi-Aventis, Roche Diagnostics and Gilead Sciences.
From a regional standpoint, IIR's Annette Kreuger, who is vp production for the pharma/biotech group, says the Great Lakes region added the most facilities - with 11 - and the potential of 1,500 jobs. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast shared second place with nine new sites, and these two regions are expected to add 2,000 jobs when the sites are fully operational.