Shire opens $1B plant to make rare disease drugs

Shire has opened this $1.2 billion plant in Covington, Georgia. (Shire)

Shire’s $1 billion plasma fractionation plant in Georgia has gone through three owners already since it was envisioned and will soon have a fourth. But after six years, it is now officially open.

The company held a kickoff ceremony at the plant in Covington on Thursday, according to The Covington News. In an email, the company confirmed that the plant currently has about 900 employees and is expected to have about 1,500 when it is fully operational.

The 1 million-square-foot facility was announced in 2012 when Baxalta was still the drug unit of Baxter International. Baxter spun the drug unit off into Baxalta in 2014, and Shire bought Baxalta in a $32 billion deal in 2016 in a move to broaden its offerings. The plant is soon expected to have a fourth owner after Japan’s Takeda in May made a $62 billion deal to buy Dublin-based Shire.

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Through all of that, patients have been “the ultimate inspiration for everything,” Carlos Soto, Shire's vice president of manufacturing operations, said at the opening, the newspaper reported.

RELATED: Shire wins FDA approval to make Gammagard Liquid at new U.S. plant, ramps up hiring

The company will make immunoglobulin products there to help patients with primary immune deficiency disorders. The company last year said it has filed its first submission to the FDA for the plant, seeking the transfer of production of Gammagard Liquid, a replacement therapy for primary humoral immunodeficiency. Shire in June won FDA approval for the transfer.

Shire expects to make a second submission to the FDA this year for development of its albumin therapy at the Covington facility. Shire's albumin therapy is primarily used as plasma-volume replacement therapy in immune disorders, trauma and other critical conditions, the company said.