Gilead set to open California production campus for up to 500 workers

Gilead Sign
Gilead is set to open a new manufacturing campus in California where it will make AmBisome and package a variety of its drugs.

After three years of work, Gilead is set to move into a $500 million manufacturing campus in California which eventually could have 500 employees.

The 320,000-square-foot facility in La Verne, California, will initially be used to manufacture its antifungal treatment AmBisome and package about 20 meds, including some of its hepatitis C cures and HIV meds. It is approved for an 80,000-square-foot expansion if needed.

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“Up to 14 million tablets will be packaged and up to 5 million AmBisome vials will be manufactured per year,” company spokeswoman Michele Rest said in an email. “Employee numbers in La Verne will increase as we build to full commercial operation.”

Gilead picked up the property in 2014 to build a facility that could replace a plant three miles away in San Dimas where AmBisome is currently made but which has had some regulatory issues in the past.

AmBisome delivered $356 million in 2016 sales, up 2% for the year but down 10% from 2014. It fell off patent last year, and the company has said it expects generic competition in Europe soon.

The new plant comes on during a challenging time for the Foster City, California-based company, which delivered disappointing guidance for 2017 earlier this year but more recently reported a surprisingly good second quarter. The company has been on the lookout for transformative M&A deals, and its name comes up as a potential buyer of any number of targets, but so far CEO John Milligan, Ph.D., has not found a deal that he believes works for the biotech.

RELATED: Gilead's hepatitis C franchise breaks out of a rut, but the M&A drumbeat continues

Its fiscal challenges have not deterred the drugmaker from taking on new manufacturing projects, which must be executed well in advance of future production needs. One effort is in China, where it is preparing to produce and launch its hep C and hep B drugs.

RELATED: Gilead discloses China manufacturing plans on a recruitment website

While Gilead has declined to offer any details about that endeavor, it let the secret out earlier this year on Twitter. A tweet to recruit workers included a link to this site which mentioned plans to build a new manufacturing site in the Hangzhou Economic Development Area.