UPDATED: Regeneron expands plant

With a boatload of products in its pipeline, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ($REGN) has decided it needs to expand production.

The New York company says it is plowing up to $75 million into its plant in East Greenbush and is looking to fill up to 130 jobs. The company currently has 500 workers at the plant, the Times Union reports, up from 180 workers 5 years ago.

The company looks to build an additional 44,000 square feet of manufacturing space and another 27,000 square feet for offices, the newspaper reports. The project is expected to create 70 manufacturing jobs and 40 to 60 administrative positions. Just last year, Regeneron invested about $5 million to add 17,000 square feet of production space at the plant. "We believe the [East Greenbush] facility is one of the larger biologics production facilities in the U.S.," Regeneron Vice President Peter Dworkin tells the newspaper.

Dworkin tells FiercePharmaManufacturing via email that "the primary driver for the plan to build 20,000 more liters of capacity and more office space is the expanding Regeneron antibody pipeline." That includes 10 human monoclonal antibody drug candidates in various stages of clinical development. The company also has an "antibody collaboration with Sanofi and plans to advance several additional antibodies into clinical development each year through 2017."

The company is on a roll right now. Last week, it again boosted its forecast of sales for its sight-restoring drug Eylea. The company said it now believes that full-year U.S. sales will tally $700 million to $750 million. That is up nearly 40% from the $500 million to $550 million projected just three months ago, which was nearly double an earlier projection.

Eylea, like competitors' treatments, is for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the key cause of blindness in the elderly. Like Roche's ($RHHBY) Lucentis, it can actually restore some sight. But Eylea's big selling point is that it requires about half as many injections, and costs less than Lucentis. That is why it has been stealing market share from the Roche drug since its November launch and that is why Regeneron keeps boosting sales projections.

- read the Times Union story
- see more from the Times Union

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional details from Regeneron on why it needs to expand.

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