Bayer expands German plants as it preps for new hemophilia treatments

Bayer HealthCare has about 1,500 people working at its global biotechnology manufacturing operation in Berkeley, CA, where it produces its blockbuster hemophilia A drug Kogenate. But it is not adequate for its future plans. The German drugmaker is feeling certain enough about a couple of potential hemophilia hits in its pipeline that it will spend nearly $700 million on new facilities in Germany that it says will add 500 jobs in its home country.

Bayer said Tuesday that it will invest €500 million ($694 million) to add production at existing sites in Leverkusen and Wuppertal. "This investment will be one of the largest in the history of Bayer HealthCare and reflects our strong commitment in the field of hemophilia A," Dr. Olivier Brandicourt, who was named CEO of Bayer HealthCare in September, said in a statement. With the expanded production, the drugmaker said it will need another 500 workers at its sites in Leverkusen and Wuppertal by the year 2020.

Bayer HealthCare CEO Olivier Brandicourt

Kogenate generated about €1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) for the drugmaker last year. But it has two other hemophilia A products in Phase III trials, including one that is long-acting, the next battleground for drugmakers in the hemophilia treatment space. Biogen Idec's ($BIIB) long-acting hemophilia B drug Alprolix is looking at possible approval midyear, while Novo Nordisk ($NVO) expects to apply for the agency's OK next year on its hemophilia B drug, N9-GP. The new treatments promise to prevent bleeding for up to two weeks, instead of requiring treatment two or three times a week. Bayer said it expects to file for approval of its once-every-7-days treatment in the second half of 2015.

Kogenate was approved in 1993, and Berkeley is Bayer's only facility for making that product. The company invested about $100 million in 2009 to upgrade the manufacturing process it uses to make the treatment.

- here's the release

Special Reports: Top 20 orphan drugs by 2018 - Kogenate | The top 10 pharma companies by 2013 revenue - Bayer Healthcare