Pfizer to invest $120 million and create jobs in Paxlovid production push

Diving brief:

  • Pfizer on Monday announcement plans to invest $120 million in a drug manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which will create more than 250 jobs.
  • The investment is aimed at ramping up production of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, demand for which rose after Pfizer initially struggled to manufacture sufficient quantities after the drug was authorized in December. To date, Pfizer has delivered 12 million courses of the drug in 37 countries, 5 million of which have been shipped to the United States.
  • The Kalamazoo plant, one of Pfizer’s largest drug manufacturing sites, will manufacture the raw materials and active ingredient in Paxlovid. The new investment increases the site’s capacity, making it one of the world’s largest producers of pharmaceutical ingredients, according to Pfizer.

Overview of the dive:

Pfizer’s investment is a response to growing demand for Paxlovid as COVID-19 infections, which hit a recent low in the United States in March, have gradually risen again.

In previous surges, the United States has relied on injectable or infused antibodies to help prevent COVID-19-related hospitalizations or deaths. But the omicron variant rendered Eli Lilly’s and Regeneron’s treatments ineffective, increasing the need for Pfizer’s pill, which didn’t have the same problems.

Last year, the Biden administration acquired 10 million courses of Paxlovid and in April is committed to securing more than 20 million more. However, supply was scarce early in the drug’s rollout, and doses were not always easy to find or access.

Use of Paxlovid has increased in recent months, according to Data from the Department of Health and Human Services and now Pfizer is responding with plans to boost manufacturing.

The $120 million investment will help produce the active ingredient as well as the raw materials involved in one of Paxlovid’s two key components. (Treatment consists of tablets of an antiviral compound invented by Pfizer and tablets of ritonavir, a generic HIV drug that helps the metabolism of Paxlovid in the body.)

The investment will also mean the addition of more than 250 positions at the Kalamazoo site, which plays a key role in manufacturing the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. The site has produced nearly a billion doses of the vaccine to date, Pfizer said.

The company further aims to expand a separate facility in Kalamazoo that produces sterile injectable drugs, adding to a previous investment of $450 million.

Pfizer plans to earn $22 billion of Paxlovid’s sales this year.

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