Kyowa Kirin steps into North America with $530m NC site

Kyowa Kirin is breaking ground on its first North American facility in Sanford, North Carolina to produce antibodies for debilitating diseases.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

June 12, 2024

2 Min Read

Japan-based pharmaceutical firm Kyowa Kirin has invested $530 million on the 171,700 square-foot facility, which is expected to begin construction in the second half of 2024. The plant will advance investigational drug production across multiple therapeutic areas, including hematology, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, and autoimmune diseases.

“[At our] Takasaki, Japan facility we handle early-stage clinical development, while in North Carolina, we will [focus on] late-stage clinical development to initial commercialization. By introducing scalable manufacturing equipment in both plants, we anticipate seamless collaboration between the two facilities,” a spokesperson for Kyowa Kirin told this publication.

“Over the coming two and half years, as the North Carolina facility is being built, we will continually evaluate our projected manufacturing needs based on the status of each pipeline product as well as our commercial manufacturing needs as we expand into markets around the world.”

Additionally, the facility is expected to open in 2027 and will house two bioreactors, though the firm has not divulged the capacity. The firm announced the plan for its North Carolina expansion in March 2024, when it picked Lee County to construct its first ever facility in North America.

“We currently estimate that the project will create more than 100 jobs, and future expansion of the site may increase our need for staff over time. [Also,] investments are expected to increase significantly in 2025 and 2026 as construction progresses,” the spokesperson added.

The facility’s location offers access to biomanufacturing resources and a large talent pool from the Research Triangle Park area, which is the largest research park in the US.

“Sanford is not only an emerging life sciences hub,” the spokesperson said, “but Lee County boasts a vibrant manufacturing cluster in which companies across a wide range of industries benefit from shared resources, supply chains, and a skilled workforce that contributes to the economic growth and prosperity of the community at large.”

North Carolina is a hotbed of pharmaceutical development and manufacturing and has seen heavy investment in the latter over the past few years.

In March 2022, Amgen invested $550 million to construct a plant in Holly Springs, which is expected to be operational in 2025. This was followed by biopharma giant Pfizer acquiring Abzena’s drug substance manufacturing plant in Sanford in October 2023. The region also hosts various contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) including Fujifilm Diosynth, Kincell Bio, and Solvias.

About the Author(s)

Shreeyashi Ojha

Reporter, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering the manufacturing and processing sectors for biopharmaceuticals globally.  

Originally from India, I am a Londoner at heart. I have recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected].

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