Up to 300 jobs are expected to be created by a $48m (€35m) investment at two of Actavis’ manufacturing facilities on the island acquired as part of the $8.5bn takeover of Warner Chilcott in October 2013.
Solid dosage manufacturing and packaging will be reactivated at a mothballed site in Manati, whilst a hormone manufacturing and packaging facility in Fajardo – hit by a US FDA warning letter in 2012 which was subsequently closed-out - will be expanded.
Since the takeover, Actavis has been trimming its network with the closure of a plant in North Carolina, the restructure of a Californian plant, and a pull-out of a joint venture with Foshan after deeming China “too risky,” but this investment helps demonstrate the robustness of Puerto Rico’s pharma industry, according to Antonio Medina Comas, Executive Director of PRIDCO.
Whilst “the expansion will provide Puerto Rico with the opportunity to bring additional manufacturing capacity, targeting new branded and generics products,” it “reinforces our pharmaceutical segment where we are pursuing opportunities in key areas of growth, such as generic, brand and biosimilars,” he told in-Pharmatechnologist.com.
“It’s important to clarify that pharma firms are continuing to grow in Puerto Rico,” he added. “Actavis’ arrival demonstrates that Puerto Rico is a preferred destination for this type of investment because of its life-sciences experience, human capital and economic incentives.
Recession and Closures
Puerto Rico is currently in a recession, with debt estimated at over $70bn, and in November last year the pharma manufacturing sector was dealt a double blow when Pfizer and Merck & Co. announced they were shuttering several sites due to over-capacity and patent expirations.
However, Medina Comas told us despite this both firms maintain a significant presence on the island, citing Merck’s $100m restructuring effort at its Las Piedras facility as an example, whilst Puerto Rico had also benefited from recent large investments from Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
“PRIDCO remains confident that on-going negotiations with other companies will continue to result in additional opportunities within this segment,” he told us.
One area Puerto Rico is opportunistically pursuing is higher-end life science manufacturing and biologics, whilst defending “its traditional pharma base,” an economic roadmap published last year said.
Medina Comas said the island had both experience and a “proven quality manufacturing record, superior to other manufacturing destinations in the world” to attract such development, amongst a number of other factors that made Puerto Rico an attractive destination for pharma and biopharma.
“Puerto Rico’s trained and experienced human capital, the benefits of being a U.S. jurisdiction with lower labor costs, the industry’s record in compliance with federal and international regulations, and the competitive tax incentives that the island provides, make it the perfect fit for investment opportunities within life sciences.”