The 77-acre site, which will be opening in March, will be used to test drugs on mice, rats, dogs and monkeys. Covance may expand the facility and add a human clinical trials centre in due course.
Covance has previously stated that the facility, construction of which began in 2007, will help it meet the demands of its drug development clients on the west coast of the US.
Perhaps predictably there has been considerable objection to the facility from animal rights groups who question the need for animal testing. In 2006, 15 activists picketed Covance in protest about the plant according to a report in the Arizona Republic newspaper.
However, others including Ray Woosley, CEO of the non-profit pharmaceuticals regulatory group the Critical Path Institute, have defended Covance and welcomed the new facility as a beneficial addition to the State's economy.
He told the newspaper that: "If anyone objectively looks at Covance, that's the kind of partner you want in a community because they do [toxicology testing] right," adding that "there are some forms of toxicity that you won't know about until you give [the drug] to a living animal."
Covance says the new facility will employ around 600 people, of which, 80 have already been hired. At present the firm has six non-clinical development facilities at sites in the UK, Germany and the US and employs about 3,200 testing staff world wide.