Catalent throws down $175M on yet another manufacturing expansion

Production powerhouse Catalent has unveiled yet another manufacturing expansion, this time at a massive oral medicines plant that already doubled in size back in 2015. 

Catalent is expanding its Winchester, Kentucky, facility to the tune of 107,000 more square feet and adding up to 277 new jobs along the way, the company said Thursday. 

The CDMO will pony up $175 million on the project, which will add two new buildings to the plant’s existing 190,000-square-foot campus. Construction is expected to wrap up by January 2024, at which point the entire Winchester site will be larger than five football fields. 

Further, the expansion is set to broaden the Winchester site’s containment vault and highly potent material handling capabilities, the CDMO said in a release. Capacity will get a boost as well, specifically for existing “turnkey operations” such as dual fill encapsulation and pan coating. The site will also be armed with a variety of packaging solutions and analytical services, Catalent said. 

The 277 new staffers Catalent expects to add by the time the Winchester expansion is completed are over and above the site's 650 employees. 

Over the years, Catalent has continued to plug resources into its Winchester plant, which opened its doors in 1992. The facility doubled its footprint back in 2015, and Catalent in 2019 laid out $40 million to install new equipment for stick pack dosage production, integrated packaging lines and more. Over its 30-year run, the site has launched more than 150 new products into the market, Catalent said, adding that the Winchester plant cranks out more than 3 billion tablets and capsules each year. 

“We are witnessing a broad increase in demand for manufacturing, and the nature of the development pipeline being strong in both oncology treatments and complex molecules necessitates the expansion of specific capabilities in areas such as highly potent materials handling,” Aris Gennadios, Ph.D., president of softgel and oral technologies at Catalent, said in a statement. 

Catalent, which famously chipped in on production of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, has been on an expansion tear after it entered the spotlight against the backdrop of the pandemic. The manufacturer shows no signs of slowing down in 2022, either. 

Late last month, Catalent pulled back the curtain on designs for a $350 million overhaul at its plant in Bloomington, Indiana, where it now plans to hire more than 1,000 new employees in the coming years. That expansion is expected to bring on new bioreactors, syringe-filling lines and extra freeze-drying capacity plus new quality control labs and complex automated packaging, the CDMO said at the time. 

Just a few days later, the company said it was buying Erytech Pharma’s commercial cell therapy plant in Princeton, New Jersey, for $44.5 million. Erytech’s staff is expected to switch over to the Catalent team, and, as part of the deal, Catalent will support long-term supply of the company’s lead product candidate eryaspase, also known as Graspa, which is in development in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.