Emergent BioSolutions, a Gaithersburg company that develops and produces vaccines and other drugs, plans to expand one of its Baltimore plants, bolstering the state’s status as a biotech hub and adding high paying jobs in the city.
The company plans to announce today it will invest $50 million over the next three years to expand its production capabilities and create up to 60 new jobs.
The plant on South Paca Street near M&T Bank Stadium fills syringes, cartridges and vials with drugs developed by other companies, and some of its own.
A plant across town by the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center also makes vaccines and other therapies for Emergent BioSolutions and other pharmaceutical companies, but also develops them. The company has contracts with the federal government agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services, to produce vaccines to counter public health threats such as anthrax and flu, as well as develop new defenses against the Zika and Ebola viruses and cyanide exposure.
The fill, finish and packaging facility in the Carroll-Camden Industrial Area will become more state-of-the-art and more flexible, so it can accommodate the various drug delivery mechanisms on the same line.
“The expansion of our Camden facility is a significant and impactful capital investment that will generate measurable benefits for our contract manufacturing clients,” said Sean Kirk, senior vice president of manufacturing and operations and head of Emergent’s contract development and manufacturing unit. “The additional capabilities and capacity provided by this project will improve throughput for our existing customers and support our future growth.”
Such facilities are different from other manufacturing plants in that they have to meet strict government criteria for sterility, so products meant for patients are not contaminated. A common reason for injectable drug shortages is the failure of such facilities to pass inspections by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to new manufacturing capabilities, the company also plans to expand warehouse and office space there.
The new jobs will require specialized training and pay a range of $40,000 to $100,000 a year.
Emergent acquired the Camden plant in 2014 and has been making upgrades as part of a plan to expand and increase company revenues to $1 billion by 2020, Kirk said. The company reported 2017 revenue of $561 million. It has 1,300 employees at 13 locations including Baltimore Gaithersburg and Rockville.
Officials said the expansion will contribute to the state’s thriving pharmaceutical industry, which has centered in the Interstate 270 corridor, but that Baltimore leaders hope to encourage in the city.
“We are excited to see the growth and success of Emergent Biosolutions and appreciate their continued investment in Baltimore,” said William H. Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s economic development agency, in a statement. “Emergent makes products, which improve public health across the globe, and it does so while creating manufacturing and research jobs that provide opportunities for Baltimore residents with various skill and education levels.”
Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Baltimore City Council president, said that the company has been a “great partner” with the city, working with schools and hiring locally. He said he also appreciated being invited into the plants to see how the vaccines addressing emerging global threats are developed and produced.
“They are on the cutting edge of some high tech vaccines to fight epidemics around the world,” he said. “Anything we can do to help their growth, we will do.”
The state Department of Commerce reports that there are 2,360 life sciences industry businesses in the state employing more than 39,500 people earning total wages of almost $4.3 billion. They contribute more than $15.4 billion in goods and services in Maryland, according to the state’s latest data.
“Emergent BioSolutions’ decision to expand is great news for Maryland’s life sciences sector, for Baltimore City and for the state,” said Bret Schreiber, the state Commerce Department’s senior director of biohealth and life sciences, in a statement. “In addition to streamlining manufacturing processes and adding capacity, this expansion — and the company’s $50 million investment — brings much-needed jobs to Baltimore City and builds on the momentum the state is experiencing in biohealth and life sciences under the Hogan administration.”
Rep. John Sarbanes, the Maryland Democrat who represents the district in Baltimore, called Emergent BioSolutions’ expansion “a testament to Maryland’s leadership in biotechnology.”
“This new facility will not only bring jobs to our community and boost our local economy,” Sarbanes said in a statement, “but also propel new medical advancements that will improve public health across the country.”