Pfizer to acquire Abzena’s NC manufacturing plant

Pfizer is set to acquire a drug substance facility in Sanford, North Carolina from Abzena to expand capacity and support its CentreOne clients.

British contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) Abzena announced the addition of a sixth global site in the US in January 2021. Three months later, the firm revealed it had selected Sanford, North Carolina as the site of a biologics manufacturing facility, which would cost the firm over $200 million and be equipped with 12x 2,000 L bioreactors.

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Financial details of the acquisition also remain undisclosed, but Pfizer confirmed the facility will manufacture various products in its pipeline and provide additional capacity for in-line medicines. Moreover, the companies’ CentreOne contract manufacturing organization (CMO) will aim to partner to bring complex biologic products to market.

“We are acquiring the site to meet our manufacturing needs and support production of our innovative pipeline products. The site will also be used for clinical stage manufacturing and be part of our in-house contract development and manufacturing services, Pfizer CentreOne (PCI),” a spokesperson for Pfizer told this publication.

“Additionally, this site is located near our existing Rocky Mount and Sanford manufacturing sites, enabling access to turn-key services spanning large molecule drug substance through fill [and] finish.”

The transaction comes after Abzena appointed Matthew Stober as its CEO this month. Stober told this publication his experience of leading the turnaround of Hospira, ahead of the $17 billion sale to Pfizer in September 2015, is one that will influence Stober’s strategy at Abzena. However, it is not yet known if this sale is part of Stober’s strategy or something that has always been in the pipeline.

“The need for this specific capacity was part of the manufacturing, R&D and PC1 strategic plan. The availability of this facility provided an opportunity to accelerate the realization of that strategy through the purchase of a site near completion. This will provide PC1 the ability to offer contract manufacturing services of biologic products which are in high demand,” said the spokesperson.

Doubled workforce

Pfizer anticipates employing around 300 members of staff by 2025, including the current staff of approximately 100 employees. In turn, this  more than doubles its workforce at the facility. In total, this brings the firm’s total workforce in North Carolina to over 4,500 employees.

“North Carolina has world class universities and a highly-skilled workforce that Pfizer plans to leverage when recruiting people once the site is operational,” the spokesperson said.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, but it is subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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