March 8, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
SANFORD, N.C. – Pfizer (PFE) has its eyes set on a possible $100 million investment to expand a plant in Sanford, N.C. with a focus on gene therapy, according to the Triangle Business Journal. The investment would include the addition of 50 new jobs.
Although Pfizer has not confirmed that Sanford, near Research Triangle Park, will receive the investment and expansion, company spokesperson Kim Bencker confirmed with the Journal that the company is “scoping out” potential sites in the Sanford area for investments. The site, which currently employs about 450 people, manufactures clinical and commercial drug materials for conjugate vaccines. In 2009, the Sanford facility was downsized from about 1,500 employees, the Journal said. That followed Pfizer’s merger with Wyeth (WYE), when much of the work performed at the Sanford plant was sent to Ireland sites, the Journal reported. If new jobs are brought to Sanford, the Journal said they would pay an average wage of $90,000, more than double the average wage of $38,116 in the county.
Officials from the state of North Carolina and Lee County are reportedly working on a tax incentive proposal to woo the Pfizer investment, Market Exclusive reported this morning.
North Carolina’s life sciences industry has been booming in recent years. Since 2010, the state’s science industry has grown by more than 11 percent, with the number of jobs related to life sciences having increased by 15 percent, the N.C. Biotech Center reported.
An expansion to support gene therapy makes sense following Pfizer’s August 2016 acquisition of Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc. The deal provided Pfizer with the means for a deeper dive into gene therapy. Bamboo was focused on developing gene therapies for the potential treatment of patients with certain rare diseases related to neuromuscular conditions and those affecting the central nervous system. The acquisition gave Pfizer Bamboo’s pipeline, which included a pre-clinical asset for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and pre-clinical assets for Friedreich’s Ataxia and Canavan disease, and a Phase I asset for Giant Axonal Neuropathy.
The Sanford site is not the only place that Pfizer could make its $100 million investment. The company is also rumored to be looking at possible locations in Massachusetts. Pfizer has made heavy investments in Massachusetts, including a new $200 million new biologics clinical manufacturing plant in Andover, Mass. Pfizer has its Research and Development hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its Andover campus currently is made up of seven buildings, including laboratories, clinical and commercial manufacturing suites, and support units. The new facility will have five independent manufacturing suites.