UPDATED: Regeneron expanding amid growing Eylea demand

Since Regeneron's Eylea arrived on the scene late in 2011, sales have skyrocketed. And with Regeneron ($REGN) expecting $1.30 billion to $1.35 billion in U.S. sales this year, it's not just its revenues that are growing. At a time when many companies are cutting back, Regeneron is expanding on all fronts, adding jobs and facilities across the board, from offices to manufacturing units. Most recently, the company entered the second phase of a $70 million upgrade to its plant in East Greenbush, NY, as it races to meet ballooning demand and follow up its Eylea success.

The expansion at the East Greenbush facility includes plans for an $80 million capital project that will add two 10,000-liter bioreactors, boosting production capacity by 50%, company Vice President Peter Dworkin told FiercePharmaManufacturing in an emailed statement in late August. Regeneron expects construction to be complete in the second half of 2014 and to have as many as 840 employees there, up from the 670 who currently work at the facility, a 25% surge. The project includes a $72 million plant expansion and $8 million for an office building. 

The "primary driver" for those updates has been an objective to make space for drugs in Regeneron's pipeline, company Vice President Peter Dworkin told FiercePharmaManufacturing. The expansion is "to enable our overall growth for clinical and commercial supplies and anticipation of additional product approvals," he said in an emailed statement in late August.

As Times Union notes, Regeneron is trying to keep up with Eylea sales that have consistently surpassed expectations. The drug, approved to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, raked in $124 million in its first full quarter on the market, and it hasn't looked back since. Eylea totaled net sales of $837.9 million in 2012 for Regeneron, and most recently, the sight-saving treatment posted $330 million in second-quarter revenue, marking a 70% increase over the same period last year. 

The expansion follows previous updates Regeneron has made to the plant over the past couple of years to help pave way for Eylea's successors. When the company announced its project in East Greenbush Dworkin said it would accommodate Regeneron's antibody pipeline and an antibody collaboration with Sanofi ($SNY). According to a Regeneron SEC filing, the French drug giant has also paid for part of a manufacturing capacity expansion in Rensselaer, NY, for cancer drug Zaltrap, which Sanofi markets, though that drug has not reached nearly the level of sales success that Eylea has.

Regeneron has been expanding in other areas as well. In April of this year, the company announced it would be expanding its corporate headquarters and laboratories, creating more than 400 jobs in Westchester County, NY.

As Regeneron expands, Eylea's patient pool might be expanding as well; last week, Bayer released late-stage study data for use of Eylea against diabetic macular edema, meaning that both Bayer and Regeneron can this year apply for approval to break into the new market.

- get the Times Union story

Editor's note: This story has been updated with late-August comments from Peter Dworkin.