Novo Nordisk buys out Purdue pill plant to gear up for oral semaglutide

With its next-gen oral GLP-1 semaglutide up for an FDA approval, Novo Nordisk is hunting for opportunities to boost its supply chain. Now, with Purdue Pharma on the ropes, it has found one in North Carolina. 

Purdue sold its Treyburn, North Carolina, plant to Novo Nordisk for an undisclosed sum, according to an announcement Purdue CEO Craig Landau sent last week to the plant’s employees.

For Novo, the plant pick-up will allow the company to flesh out the supply chain for its oral GLP-1 drug semaglutide, which is up for FDA review, a Novo spokesman said.

“We wanted to establish tablet production capacity in the US in order to build a domestic supply chain for oral semaglutide and future oral medicines,” Novo spokesman Ken Inchausti said in an email. “The location of the facility made sense in consideration of our existing production site and the current expansion effort in nearby Clayton, NC.”

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Purdue plans to lease the 188,000-square-foot facility before fully vacating the location on Dec. 1. The company will then consolidate its own manufacturing operations at its larger Wilson, North Carolina plant.

“While recognized as a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant for solid oral dose forms, Treyburn was constructed to provide redundancy and a backup facility for Wilson,” Landau said in the text. “Given the market dynamics and expected demand for our current portfolio of marketed products, the continued operation of Treyburn can no longer be justified.” 

While Landau didn’t specify which drugs are made at the Treyburn plant, OxyContin is a part of the company’s oral solid dose portfolio. A Purdue spokeswoman said the drugmaker has a “longstanding policy not to comment on our financial strategy” and did not say whether any of the plant’s “fewer than 80” employees were expected to be terminated.

In late April, Novo pledged to power its entire manufacturing chain with 100% renewable energy by 2020. Inchausti said the drugmaker would look to refurbish the Treyburn site with “environmentally friendly improvements” to keep up with that promise.

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The plant sale ends Purdue’s five-year occupancy of the Treyburn site after purchasing the land for roughly $2.7 million back in July 2014. At the time, Purdue paid around $53,000 per acre and plugged an estimated $59 million into the project.

Purdue has been in the sights of state and federal prosecutors for its aggressive marketing of powerful opioid OxyContin. The drugmaker and its billionaire founding family the Sacklers have been targeted for their role in pushing sales of the drug as the nation’s opioid epidemic raged.

The state of Arizona filed last week a SCOTUS complaint accusing the Sacklers of stripping billions from the company in a ploy to bankrupt the drugmaker and avoid paying potentially huge legal settlements.