Biotech firm to build $365 million packaging plant in New Albany

Jim Weiker
The Columbus Dispatch
Amgen workers label drug bottle.

The biotechnology company Amgen plans to build a $365 million pharmaceutical packaging facility in New Albany that will employ 400 workers. 

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority Monday approved a state tax credit for the project, near Beech Road and Rt. 161.  

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, plans to start work in the fall on the 270,000-square-foot facility. 

In a news release announcing the decision, the company said "the facility will feature Amgen’s most advanced assembly and final product packaging capabilities for medicines to be distributed in the U.S." 

"We are proud of our track record of providing a reliable supply of high-quality medicines for patients around the world,” Amgen Executive Vice President of Operations Esteban Santos said in the news release. 

“We are adding this additional assembly and packaging plant to our global supply chain network to support the anticipated growth in demand for Amgen medicines." 

Amgen's New Albany packaging plant

The company will hire technicians, engineers, managers and other positions to staff the plant. The facility is expected to have an annual payroll of around $41 million. 

The state tax credits are worth up to $15 million over the next 15 years, depending on how many jobs are created. The city of New Albany has granted other tax breaks, including a 100% property tax abatement for 15 years, for the project, which will be built on the Licking County side of property that straddles Licking and Franklin counties. 

Amgen Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Arleen Paulino said the company chose New Albany for its factory because of access to talented workers, "favorable operating costs," a centralized location for logistics and "the vibrant business climate." 

“We look forward to building strong connections with the New Albany community,” Paulino said in the release.

Amgen, founded in 1980, develops medicines for serious diseases that have few treatments, focusing on cardiovascular disease, oncology, bone health, neuroscience, nephrology and inflammation, according to the firm. Among its best-known products are Neulasta, designed to treat cancer patients with low white blood cells, the arthritis drug Enbrel, anemia drug Epogen, and cancer treatment Neupogen.

Amgen's Epogen Labs facility

In May, the company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Lumakras, a potentially major treatment for lung cancer patients with a common genetic mutation. 

Amgen reported revenue of $25 billion in 2020 and is one of 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company reported disappointing results for the first quarter, including a 4% decline in revenue due to a drop in prices for the company's products. 

The company employs nearly 25,000 workers including 14,000 in the U.S., although in March, Amgen acquired Rodeo Therapeutics Corp., founded by two researchers from Case Western Reserve University. 

The Columbus area lags well behind Northeast Ohio in the number of biotech firms, according to the industry group BioOhio. But central Ohio has seen several recent expansions in the industry, including:

• The Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical firm Serepta Therapeutics'snew building at 3435 Stelzer Road, part of the company's Gene Therapy Center of Excellence; 

• Nationwide Children's Hospital's $200 million expansion of Andelyn Biosciences in Ohio State University's Innovation District, to pioneer cell- and  gene-based therapy;

• The Grove City gene therapy firm Forge Biologics' recent raising of $120 million in financing.

Amgen worked with the economic development agencies JobsOhio and One Columbus, in addition to the Ohio Tax Credit Authority, to bring Amgen to Ohio.

“Amgen is a global pioneer on the front lines of restoring health and providing therapies for those fighting serious illnesses such as cancer,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a news release. 

“Attracting a biotechnology leader to the Columbus region was a collaborative effort between the Ohio Development Services Agency, JobsOhio and its partners, and we look forward to working with Amgen as it improves healthcare throughout the world with talent from Ohio.”

In separate actions, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority also approved tax breaks for the insurance technology firm Bold Penguin and the welding robotics firm Path Robotics, both of Columbus, and for the plastics injections firm Midwest Molding of Union County. 

jweiker@dispatch.com

@JimWeiker