Gilead contractor PharmaChem starts $120M Bahamas expansion

Building on an existing relationship, PharmaChem Technologies has started work on a $120 million plant expansion in Freeport, Bahamas. The contract manufacturer is planning to use new technology and capacity in order to deepen its ties with California biotech Gilead Sciences.

PharmaChem Technologies president Pietro Stefanutti

The expansion will add about 100 jobs to the company's site, according to a local report from Bahama Islands Info, bringing the employee base to 220 from 120. In a statement, Gilead ($GILD) confirmed that the plant will exclusively produce Gilead active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), with a spokesperson adding that the new project will allow the facility to produce more complex APIs than it currently does.

A Gilead release from 2005 shows that the companies paired more than a decade ago in an arrangement for PharmaChem to produce tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, the API in Gilead's Viread.

"Since PharmaChem's establishment and configuration in 2004, the facility has become one of the key suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients and registered intermediates for Gilead's antiretroviral therapies used to help people with HIV/AIDS," Gilead's statement on Monday said.

The new project--which PharmaChem president Pietro Stefanutti said has been jointly designed by the companies over a two-year span--is expected to be ready in 2019.

According to a past report from Tribune Business, Stefanutti repurchased PharmaChem in 2014 from France's Novasep after selling the company in 2007.

Before buying and developing megablockbuster hepatitis C meds Sovaldi and Harvoni, Gilead relied on its HIV franchise and remains the leader in that category. Since the start of March, the company has netted FDA approvals for Odefsey, the smallest single tablet HIV regimen, and Descovy, a next-gen HIV competitor.

- here's the BII report
- more from FierceBiotech on Gilead's Descovy approval