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WuXi STA plans pharmaceutical chemical facility in Delaware

Major US project follows the Chinese firm’s acquisition of a BMS plant in Switzerland

by Rick Mullin
June 28, 2021


A technician wearing protective clothing operates a machine at a WuXi AppTec drug manufacturing plant in Shanghai.
Credit: WuXi AppTec
A WuXi AppTec technician at work at the company’s plant in Shanghai's Jinshan region. The plant in Delaware will be the STA division’s eighth worldwide.

WuXi STA, the small-molecule drug arm of WuXi AppTec, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical services firms, plans to build a plant in Middletown, Delaware. WuXi STA announced the project on Monday after the state of Delaware approved a $19 million grant supporting it.

Expected to open in 2024 and employ about 500 people by 2026, the project is a major step in WuXi STA’s international expansion effort. The business is based in China and operates several facilities there. In 2016 it opened a small facility in San Diego. Earlier this year it agreed to buy a Bristol Myers Squibb plant in Switzerland.

In addition to unspecified capacity for making active pharmaceutical ingredients, the Delaware plant will feature testing labs and facilities for packaging of solid-dose and sterile drugs. WuXi says its long-term plans call for creating 1,000 jobs at the site, which is being developed on about 75 hectares in an industrial region 50 km south of Wilmington.

“Delaware’s highly trained pharmaceutical manufacturing workforce and proximity to many of our customers provide tremendous opportunities to support the region’s economic growth and efforts to advance pharmaceutical development and manufacturing,” WuXi STA CEO Minzhang Chen says in a press release.

By further expanding outside of China, WuXi STA is following the lead of other WuXi AppTec businesses. WuXi AppTec opened an immunotherapy facility in Philadelphia in 2014 and earlier this year acquired Oxgene, a UK-based cell and gene therapy specialist. WuXi also purchased US lab testing and clinical research businesses in recent years.

Along with its manufacturing forays into Europe and the US, WuXi STA has been pushing to expand its technology base, says James Bruno, head of the consulting firm Chemical and Pharmaceutical Solutions. “I’m told they are trying to increase overall in areas like oligonucleotides and peptides, and in fact are looking for peptide chemists,” he says. “They want to be an international player, and they’re doing everything they can to take care of that.”



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