The site in Edmonton, Alberta employs over 300 people, but the additional R&D unit opened yesterday – plus a second laboratory set to be completed next year - will add an additional 170 scientists working on Gilead’s growing pipeline.
“As Gilead expands into new therapeutic areas, the additional laboratory space enables our process and analytical chemistry teams in Edmonton to make an even greater contribution to the development of life-saving therapies for patients,” Robin Nicol, VP of Chemical Operations and General Manager of the plant said.
Furthermore, the firm is investing an extra $100m at the site in order to construct a process tower for the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and will allow the plant to handle more potent compounds.
The investment in its own network comes a week after senior management explained how the Gilead’s reliance on third-party research organisations and manufacturers has given the firm “a lot of flexibility over the years,” and begs the question whether the ‘virtual’ pharma company is now looking to increase its own capabilities.
Along with the Edmonton site, Gilead has its three facilities in California, and a plant in Cork, Ireland, where certain APIs and fully formulated products are manufactured for clinical and commercial uses.
However, Gilead’s lead product Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) - an orally formulated nucleotide analog which costs patients with HCV up to $84,000 for a course of treatment (or $1,000 per pill) – was developed and is fully manufactured by third parties.
Launched in December 2013, the drug clocked in sales of over $10bn last year.