Gilead to Unveil New SoCal Facility That Could House Up to 500 Employees

Published: Aug 16, 2017

Gilead to Unveil New SoCal Facility That Could House Up to 500 Employees August 16, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead Sciences plans to open its new 23-acre campus in La Verne, Calif. this week.

The building at the site is 320,000 square feet and is zoned to allow for another 80,000-square-foot building if needed. Located at 1800 Wheeler Avenue, the facility will manufacture AmBisome for fungal infections, as well as for a type of meningitis in HIV patients. In addition, the plant will package, label and distribute more than 20 Gilead products through the Americas and the Pacific Rim. Included in that list of products is Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs.

“Up to 14 million tablets will be packaged and up to 5 million AmBisome vials will be manufactured per year,” Michele Rest, Gilead spokesman, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “Employee numbers in La Verne will increase as we build to full commercial operation.”

Once the La Verne facility opens, it will be the second largest employer in La Verne. The largest is the University of La Verne, which employs 1,800 people.

“We’re really happy to have a world leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing come to our city,” said Eric Scherer, La Verne’s acting community development director to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “And the jobs will be a big boost for us.”

The facility reportedly cost $500 million and will employ up to 500 people. Gilead acquired the property in 2014. It was intended to replace a facility three miles away in San Dimas, where AmBisome is presently manufactured. That facility has been warned in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for quality issues, although those appear to have been addressed shortly afterwards.

“As the La Verne campus will eventually replace our nearby Sam Dimas site, proximity to our existing site for our employees and familiarity with the area were determining factors for selecting La Verne,” Rest said in a statement.

In addition to its Foster City headquarters and La Verne, Gilead has operations in Oceanside and Fremont, California. It also has sites in Seattle and Miami, Alberta and Ontario, Canada, and Mexico City. It has additional manufacturing sites in Foster City, Albert, Canada and Cork, Ireland.

“The property they purchased in La Verne was vacant and originally owned by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California,” Scherer told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “The water district declared it excess land and put it up for sale.”

AmBisone raked in $356 million in sales last year, an increase of 2 percent from 2015, but down 10 percent from 2014. It lost patent protection last year, so it is likely there will be generics in Europe soon.

Gilead plans a grand opening ceremony for the new campus today. In addition to Gilead president and chief executive officer John Milligan, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Sen. Anthony Portantino and Assemblyman Chris Holden are expected to attend. Tours of the facility will be offered.

Because Gilead’s hepatitis C franchise is losing its dominance in the marketplace because of competition and a dwindling patient population, investors have been urging the company to make a large acquisition—or two—to boost the company’s value. In June, it was rumored that the company was in talks with Tesaro over an acquisition, but to date nothing has come of it.

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