Novo pumps up hemophilia drug production with $225M plant

Novo Nordisk is known as a diabetes drug specialist, but its products are not limited to diabetes alone and among its others are a number for treating rare bleeding disorders. Expecting demand for its hemophilia products to grow, the Danish company is kicking off construction of a $225 million plant at its extensive production site in Kalundborg.

When complete and operational in 2020, Novo ($NVO) said the 7,500-square-meter (80,729-square-foot) 1.5 billion Danish kroner plant will add 100 production and engineering workers to the 2,800 employees Novo has at the Kalundborg operation. 

Novo's Henrik Wulff

"The investment in Kalundborg underscores our long-term ambition to create and maintain jobs in Denmark," Henrik Wulff, EVP of product supply, said in a statement. "This year alone we expect Novo Nordisk will create about 250 new jobs in Kalundborg."

The new facility, in planning since 2011, will churn out the active pharmaceutical ingredients for NovoSeven and future products for treating hemophilia. NovoSeven, a treatment for people with hemophilia A or B who form inhibitors, was Novo's first hemophilia product, approved in 1996. The drug's sales have flattened out at about $1.5 billion last year, but the company is branching out. Last year it got approval in a number of countries for Novoeight, its newer version treatment for hemophilia A. Already available in Europe and Japan, Novo is rolling Novoeight out in the U.S. this quarter.

Novo is also working on a longer-acting treatment to help patients avoid having to have treatments so often; for some that is every day. While the market for these next-gen meds is expected to be lucrative, Novo will have to scrap for its share. Biogen ($BIIB) is already tapping the market, having gotten two long-acting treatments approved last year. First was Alprolix for hemophilia B, which it priced on par with older meds, followed shortly by Eloctate, a longer-acting treatment for hemophilia A, which analysts have projected hitting blockbuster numbers.

Novo expects to submit its long-acting B treatment candidate to the FDA this year and its treatment for hemophilia A in 2018. To help with its production needs in the U.S., Novo is converting a biologics plant in New Hampshire that it acquired last year from Olympus Biologics.

- here's the release