Fresenius Kabi to invest $100M, add 445 jobs in North Carolina as U.S. investments now top $5B

Syringe
Fresenius Kabi is investing $100 million to expand a syringe and drugmaker plant in North Carolina as it continues a major push into the U.S. market.

With plans for a major expansion of its North Carolina site, Fresenius Kabi's investments aimed primarily at the U.S. generics market now top $5 billion as the German drugmaker bets on growth in sterile injectables.

Fresenius Kabi says it will spend more than $100 million and add 445 jobs at the syringe and drug-making site in Wilson, North Carolina, that it acquired in 2016 from Becton Dickinson. Fresenius has agreed to add the jobs over five years in exchange for about $7.2 million in state aid over 12 years. The company will build a second manufacturing facility there as well as add to the current facility.  

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That project comes on top of the $250 million the drugmaker is investing in a sterile injectables manufacturing site in Melrose Park, Illinois, near its U.S. headquarters in Lake Zurich, Illinois. It recently broke ground on that project.

Its biggest bet, however, was the $4.75 billion it agreed in April to pay for U.S.-based generics maker Akorn, which specializes in sterile injectables but also has a portfolio of products spanning new dosage forms for Fresenius, including sterile ophthalmics, topical creams, ointments and gels. 

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“Our strategy is to produce in the U.S. and to invest in products and operations that meet important customer needs while helping make healthcare more accessible for patients,” Steven R. Nowicki, senior VP of global operations for Fresenius Kabi North America, said in a statement. “We’re pleased to continue this approach at our site in North Carolina.”

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The Akorn deal is slated to close early next year. It will add three U.S. manufacturing sites and one in India to Fresenius’ network, as well as about 2,000 employees.

On the same day that Fresenius announced plans to buy Akorn, it said it would also pay €170 million up front and up to €500 million in milestone payments, or about $729.2 million total, to buy the biosimilars portfolio of Germany-based Merck KGaA. With its expanded sterile injectables portfolio and move into biosimilars, Fresenius appears to be mimicking the approach taken by sterile injectables leader Hospira, which Pfizer bought in 2015 for $15 billion.