UPDATED: WuXi says it intends to triple capacity at China plant

The rapidly expanding pharma services company WuXi PharmaTech started work on a new facility in Philadelphia for manufacturing cell therapies last month. Now it says it is ready to undertake an expansion in China that will eventually triple its manufacturing capacity.

The facility in Changzhou, west of Shanghai, will be an integrated R&D and manufacturing operation built in two phases. The first, which it expects to complete by Q4 2015, will double capacity and cost about $100 million, Hui Cai, Wuxi vice president of corporate alliances, said in an email. When the second phase is complete, it expects to triple manufacturing and employ more than 1,500. 

WuXi PharmaTech's Philadelphia facility--Courtesy of WuXi PharmaTech

The announcement comes only weeks after WuXi said it was adding 45,000 square feet of clinical and commercial manufacturing space to its cell technologies operations in Philadelphia. The new operations, which will use disposable technology, are being added to an existing 16,000-square-foot facility it has at the Philadelphia Navy Yard which is home to its cell therapy operations. In 2012, the company opened a biologics manufacturing plant in China to initially serve a joint venture it has with AstraZeneca ($AZN).

WuXi is still small but has seen substantial percentage growth in its manufacturing, reporting a 72.5% increase in revenue from those operations in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $37.8 million. The company had sales for all of 2013 of $578.1 million, which reflected a 25.8% jump in manufacturing to $147.2 million. Its China operations accounted for 84% of its total revenue last year.

- here's the announcement

Editor's Note: The update added information from the company that the first phase will take an investment of about $100 million.