Roche's Genentech investing $125M in Oregon plant

Hillsboro, OR plant--Courtesy of Genentech

With a bunch of biologic drugs in development, Roche's Genentech sees the need for more production capacity. To meet it, the biotech is expanding a fill/finish facility in Oregon, investing $125 million on the project and adding dozens of jobs there.

The South San Francisco, CA-based company announced on Friday that it will expand the facility in Hillsboro, OR, an operation that it opened in 2010 and which also includes a warehouse and distribution center. It expects to add as many as 100 positions.

"This investment in our sterile production operations will result in the addition of up to 100 new skilled manufacturing jobs in the greater Portland area over the next 5 years, potentially bringing the total number of Genentech jobs in Oregon to over 500," said Larry Sanders, a Genentech vice president, in a statement.

The build-out there adds to a big push Roche ($RHHBY) announced in 2013 to expand biologics production. At the time, the Swiss drugmaker said it would spend 800 million Swiss francs ($881.8 million), expanding facilities in the U.S., Switzerland and Germany and adding 500 jobs in the process.

Of course Genentech's production facilities were included in that plan, with Roche saying it would spend 260 million Swiss francs ($285.9 million) to expand biologic manufacturing capacity at Genentech's operations in Vacaville and Oceanside in California. Those investments are slated to add about 250 jobs.

Additionally, Roche is investing 190 million Swiss francs ($208.9 million) on a new antibody-drug conjugate production facility in its home base of Basel, Switzerland, that will create 50 jobs. It largest investment is for a plant in Penzberg, Germany, where it is spending 350 million Swiss francs ($384.9 million) and is expected to add 200 jobs.

Roche is counting on a host of new Genentech drug candidates to provide a needed boost to its bottom line. In January, Roche CEO Severin Schwan said Genentech's work in immuno-oncology was a reason to expect better results in the future. The drugmaker reported a 16% drop in annual profit after restructuring some of its debt, and that despite a 5% bump in revenues to 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Schwan discussed candidates like Genentech's anti-PD-L1 drug in bladder cancer and multiple sclerosis programs for ocrelizumab (Opera I/II and Oratorio).

- here's the release