UPDATED: Regeneron puts $70M in plant expansion amid growing Eylea demand

Since Regeneron's Eylea hit the market in late 2011, it has been flying off shelves. And with Regeneron ($REGN) expecting $1.30 billion to $1.35 billion in U.S. sales this year, the company is taking some of those revenues and expanding its production capabilities. It is now in the second phase of a $72 million upgrade to its plant in East Greenbush, NY. 

The expansion at the East Greenbush facility includes adding two 10,000-liter bioreactors, boosting production capacity by 50%, company Vice President Peter Dworkin told FiercePharmaManufacturing in an emailed statement in late August. Regeneron expects construction to be complete in the second half of 2014 and to have as many as 840 employees there, up from the 670 who currently work at the facility, a 25% surge. The project includes $72 million for the plant expansion and $8 million for a new office building. 

The expansion follows previous updates Regeneron has made.  In 2011, the Tarrytown, NY-based company invested $5 million to tack on 17,000 square feet of production space. The "primary driver" for the updates has been an objective to make space for drugs in Regeneron's pipeline, Dworkin has told FiercePharmaManufacturing in the past. The expansion is "to enable our overall growth for clinical and commercial supplies and anticipation of additional product approvals," he said in an emailed statement in late August.

As Times Union notes, Regeneron is trying to keep up with Eylea sales that have consistently surpassed expectations. The drug, approved to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, raked in $124 million in its first full quarter on the market, and it hasn't looked back since. Eylea totaled net sales of $837.9 million in 2012 for Regeneron, and it tacked on another $18 million for Bayer HealthCare, which markets the drug in Europe. Most recently, the sight-saving treatment posted $330 million in second-quarter revenue, marking a 70% increase over the same period last year.

Dworkin said that because small quantities of Eylea are required for injection, capacity for that product alone is not so much an issue. And that's a good thing for Regeneron, whose market may be about to broaden: Last week, Bayer released late-stage study data for use of Eylea against diabetic macular edema, meaning that both Bayer and Regeneron can this year apply for approval to break into the new market.

- get the Times Union story

Editor's note: This story has been updated with late-August comments from Peter Dworkin.

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