Global pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company is investing again in North Carolina, this time announcing a $450 million, 100-plus-worker add-on to its nearly completed $474 million Research Triangle Park pharmaceutical manufacturing campus.
This announcement, made in a news release from the company’s Indianapolis headquarters this morning, is in addition to Lilly’s investment, announced just a year ago, of more than $1 billion in a new factory that will create nearly 600 jobs in the Charlotte suburb of Concord.
This nearly $2 billion total commitment started in October 2020 when Lilly announced it would build its first North Carolina manufacturing facility in the Durham County portion of RTP. The company said that $474 million investment would create 462 new jobs.
The 145-year-old company said at the time that it chose North Carolina over competing sites in Indianapolis and Philadelphia, primarily because of North Carolina’s workforce characteristics. North Carolina is renowned for its history and successes in life sciences partnerships and training, and its capabilities for delivering creative and ongoing programs that produce effective, job-ready graduates.
When fully operational in 2027, Lilly’s newly announced RTP facility, like its neighboring site, will incorporate some of the same automation, robotics and data analytics as its sibling, to handle drug formulation and filling through final packaging of both marketed and late-stage pipeline candidates.
Initially the site will produce two major diabetes drugs: Trulicity, an injectable approved in 2014, and Mounjaro (tirzepatide), approved last May. The company said the newly announced expansion includes additional parenteral (non-oral) device filling, device assembly and packaging capacity to support an increased demand for Lilly's incretin products that treat diabetes. Incretins are gut hormones that aid in digestion.
"As we move into 2023, Lilly is focused on finding innovative solutions to meet the growing demand for our medicines," said Edgardo Hernandez, executive vice president and president, Lilly manufacturing operations. "Expanding our operations at Research Triangle Park will accelerate the rate at which we can produce medicines that patients rely on to address serious health challenges like diabetes. We're on track to achieve the goal we shared in November 2022 of doubling incretin capacity by the end of this year, but this investment is key to ensuring even more patients will have access to medicines they need in the future."
Since 2020, Lilly has committed roughly $4 billion to new manufacturing facilities in North Carolina, including $1.7 billion for the development and expansion of its RTP site. Lilly bought three parcels of land totaling 102 acres in RTP in 2021 near its existing campus facility. In total, the company has spent some $70 million on land for its RTP campus.
The company anticipates initial production at the first RTP facility to begin this year, with preparations for inspections by the FDA ongoing.
Since 2014, Lilly has introduced 18 new medicines to treat diseases like diabetes and cancer. The company says it aims to introduce several potential new medicines this year.
"When companies already in North Carolina choose to expand here, it reaffirms our status as the best state to do business," Governor Roy Cooper said. "Our strong communities and our dedicated, well-trained workforce will help Lilly continue to succeed."
North Carolina's workforce has extensive experience in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and Lilly has established partnerships with local entities to ensure more people in the community have an opportunity to receive the education necessary to produce life-changing medicines. Through partnerships between Lilly, Wake Tech, Durham Tech and other local colleges and organizations, residents with high school diplomas or community college credits have an opportunity to refine their skills and earn the credentials needed to begin careers in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
As Lilly prepares for future growth expected from potential new medicines to treat diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions, the company anticipates further expansion of its global manufacturing footprint to ensure sufficient supply of medicine.