Kyowa Kirin to expand manufacturing footprint with $530M biologics plant in North Carolina

With board approval in hand, Kyowa Kirin can move forward with plans to establish a $530 million manufacturing site in North Carolina.

Construction on the state-of-the-art, 171,700-square-foot facility in Sanford will begin over the second half of this year, the company said in a press release. The site is expected to be fully operational by 2027.

The site will make “innovative biologic therapies,” including next-generation antibodies, for planned clinical trials and eventual commercial use, the company said. It'll be the company's first manufacturing site in North America.

The new digs will be compatible with the company’s existing plant in Takasaki, Japan, helping to "ease" the tech transfer process, Kyowa's chief supply chain officer and global manufacturing head, Toshiyuki Kurata, said in the release.

 “We believe this will help accelerate drug development and production,” Kurata added.

Kyowa Kirin’s investment will be supported by state and local government incentives of up to $10 million over 12 years. The project will create more than 100 new jobs with an average salary of more than $90,000.

The Japanese drugmaker previously announced the plans for a North Carolina footprint in March, when it selected Lee County as the site of its first North American manufacturing plant. The state won out after its governor, Roy Cooper, visited Tokyo in October, resulting in several Japanese pharma companies plotting NC expansions.

"Among the many qualities that drew us to North Carolina are our shared values, such as harmony and teamwork known as Wa, which is deeply ingrained in our culture at Kyowa Kirin, evident in our longstanding corporate partnerships, and fundamental to high-quality pharmaceutical manufacturing,” Kyowa Kirin's North American president, Steve Schaefer, said in the release.

The state’s Research Triangle Park is a biopharma hub and offers a deep talent pool, which Kyowa said it plans to leverage. Many biopharma companies, including Eli Lilly and Thermo Fisher, have set up shop in the area.

On the commercial side, Kyowa Kirin has already made a mark on the U.S. with four FDA-approved meds, including its Orchard subsidiary's recent nod for its metachromatic leukodystrophy gene therapy Lenmeldy. The drug made history as the most expensive therapy in the U.S. at a wholesale acquisition cost of $4.25 million.