Idled Viatris Morgantown Facility May Be Moving to West Virginia U
U.S. health care company Viatris is in talks with West Virginia University stakeholders to transfer its idled pharmaceutical production facility in Morgantown to the school. The plant closed in December 2020 and was ultimately shuttered on 31 July 2021, resulting in the loss of some 1,500 jobs.
In a statement, Viatris executive chairman Robert Coury said that seeking new stewards for the site is the best route to ensure that people will have jobs and that the property would remain useful. The firm has been looking for a buyer for the plant but has to date, been unsuccessful.
"Given the present landscape, when thinking about responsible new stewards for the site, as well as its strategic location, future potential uses, and the possibility for job creation opportunities in the short, medium and long term for Morgantown and its surrounding areas, we determined that pursuing formal discussions at this time with WVU and its affiliates is the absolute right next step to consider. We remain and intend to continue to be a significant employer in Morgantown, including at our world-class global center of excellence for research and development," said Coury.
Speaking to reporters at a media briefing on COVID-19 strategies Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice expressed support for Viatris's effort, noting that his office will work closely with WVU to bring in new business at the site should the deal (via a memorandum of understanding) push through.
WVU has yet to provide a statement on what its plans would be for the site, although university president Dr. E. Gordon Gee told reporters from 5 News that although they cannot assure that the laid-off workers would be rehired anytime soon, the university will find ways to create dynamic growth opportunities that would build business and jobs in the location.
Viatris is the product of a 2019 merger between Pfizer's Upjohn arm and Mylan Pharmaceuticals. This strengthened Upjohn's leadership role in China and emerging markets alongside Mylan's vast presence in Europe and the U.S.
News of the planned MOU comes on the heels of Viatris' strong second quarter results announcement, which saw the firm earning $4.58 billion in total revenues for the period. The firm also just received approval for the first interchangeable biosimilar in the country for Semglee for the treatment of diabetes.
"This quarter continues to highlight our ability to generate sustainable cash flow, which was above our expectations. Our strong cash flow performance allowed us to repay $1.15 billion of debt in the first half of the year, while also paying our first quarterly dividend. We anticipate significant increases in cash flow generation in the coming years," said Sanjeev Narula, chief financial officer for Viatris, in a separate statement.