Pfizer's Expansion into Gene Therapy Adds Jobs with $90,000 Salaries

Published: Aug 11, 2017

Pfizer's Expansion into Gene Therapy Adds Jobs with $90,000 Salaries August 8, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Pfizer announced plans to invest $100 million in Sanford, N.C. for an expansion of its gene therapy operations. The effort is expected to create 40 jobs in Sanford. The jobs will have an average salary of $90,000.

“Pfizer is proud to further expand our presence in North Carolina, particularly as we build our leadership in gene therapy,” said Lynn Bottone, site leader at Pfizer Sanford said in a statement. “We look forward to the next phase of this expansion as we build a clinical and commercial manufacturing facility.”

In 2016, Pfizer acquired private biotech company Bamboo Therapeutics, which is located in Chapel Hill, N.C. Bamboo specializes in developing gene therapies for rare diseases related to neuromuscular and central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Pfizer indicated at the acquisition in August 2016, that it had acquired clinical and pre-clinical assets, an advanced recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus (rAAV) vector design and production technology, and a fully functional Phase I/II gene therapy manufacturing plant that Bamboo had acquired from the University of North Carolina.

The company indicated the neuromuscular disorders included Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and the CNS disorders included Friedreich’s Ataxia and Canavan disease, as well as a Phase I compound for Giant Axonal Neuropathy.

In addition, Pfizer has agreed to invest $4 million to support postdoctoral fellowships related to gene therapy research in North Carolina universities.

“We are excited that Carolina’s research will improve lives and create jobs for North Carolinians,” said Carol Folt, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor, in a statement. “This is a perfect example of how placing innovation at the center of our university creates new opportunities. We are proud to be a part of the technologies, expertise and infrastructure that went into Bamboo Therapeutics and helped make this manufacturing expansion in Sanford possible. Gene therapy is a strength at Carolina, and we look forward to continue to help advance this industry.”

Also, Pfizer is expanding a manufacturing plant in Rocky Mount, N.C. that it bought when it acquired Hospira in 2015. That $190 million investment will add 65,000 square feet of sterile injectable facilities, although no new jobs will be created. It currently employs approximately 300 people.

In February 2017, the Lee County Board of Commissioners granted Pfizer an incentives package worth more than $1.4 million over five years. The company also qualified for a performance-based grant of $250,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. This organization provides state assistance matched by local governments to aid in attracting economic investment and create jobs. No money is received up front from One North Carolina Fund, but are required to meet job and investment targets to receive the money.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper visited the Sanford facility last week and met with senior management. “North Carolina is one of the few places in the country,” the governor said in a statement, “with the biotech resources to take an idea all the way from the lab to the manufacturing line. Pfizer’s investment in Lee County is a prime example of how North Carolina’s world-class universities and cutting-edge industries work together to move our state forward.”

The expansion is expected to take five years. Lee County estimates that the project will generate about $3.3 million in taxes over the next 10 years. It also believes that the project will create as many as 300 construction jobs during the building phase.

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