Bio & Pharmaceuticals

NC: Pfizer to Invest $100M in Gene Therapy Mfg Facility in Lee County

9 Aug, 2017

Pfizer Inc., one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, has selected Lee County for a new expansion of its manufacturing facilities as the company prepares to produce new gene therapy medicines. Governor Roy Cooper announced the company plans to invest $100 million in its Sanford facilities, creating 40 jobs and building upon a technology first developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“North Carolina is one of the few places in the country with the biotech resources to take an idea all the way from the lab to the manufacturing line,” Governor Cooper said. “Pfizer’s investment in Lee County is a prime example of how North Carolina’s world-class universities and cutting-edge industries work together to move our state forward.”

The Pfizer expansion in Sanford will focus on gene therapy, a potentially transformational technology for patients, focused on highly specialized, one-time treatments that address the root cause of diseases caused by genetic mutation. The technology involves introducing 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.

Governor Cooper visited Pfizer’s Sanford facility last week to take a tour and meet with the company’s senior leaders.

“Pfizer is proud to further expand our presence in North Carolina, particularly as we build our leadership in gene therapy,” states Lynn Bottone, Site Leader at Pfizer Sanford. “We look forward to the next phase of this expansion as we build a clinical and commercial manufacturing facility.”

Gene therapy is an important area of focus for Pfizer. In 2016, the company acquired Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company based in Chapel Hill 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. Pfizer also committed $4 million to support postdoctoral fellowships in North Carolina universities for training in gene therapy research.

“Innovation drives economic opportunity and expansion,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “Pfizer’s decision to expand in North Carolina proves how our investments in education pay off in new jobs and new solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. (EDPNC) were instrumental in supporting the company’s investment decision.

Pfizer will add a variety of jobs with this expansion, delivering a total payroll impact of more than $3.9 million each year to the community, once all positions are filled.

A performance-based grant of $250,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Pfizer’s expansion in Lee County. The One NC grant will formally be awarded to Wyeth Holdings, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

“We are excited that Carolina’s research will improve lives and create jobs for North Carolinians,” said Carol Folt, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “This is a perfect example of how placing innovation at the center of our university creates new opportunities. We are proud to be a part of the technologies, expertise and infrastructure that went into Bamboo Therapeutics and helped make this manufacturing expansion in Sanford possible. Gene therapy is a strength at Carolina and we look forward to continue to help advance this industry.”

“Many partners in our community came together to support Pfizer’s decision,” said N.C. Representative John Sauls. “We look forward to the many good things this company will bring to our area with this expansion.”

In addition to North Carolina Commerce and the Economic Partnership of North Carolina, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Duke Energy, Lee County, and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance.