One of three partners in Petersburg’s fledgling pharmaceutical industry announced Thursday plans to build a $27.8 million laboratory testing center in southeast Chesterfield County to complement its manufacturing plant of drugs in Petersburg.
The new center for non-profit drugmaker Civica Rx will be built in the Meadowville Technology Park near Hopewell. The 55,000 square foot lab will employ 51 people. It will also house a manufacturing facility to be operated by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medicines for All Institute.
The center’s primary focus will be to test and develop low-cost insulin to be manufactured in Petersburg, located approximately 10 miles from the planned Chesterfield site.
“When it comes to drug costs, perhaps no drug is more important than insulin, which is an absolutely life-saving drug for 8 million Americans. [and] a major cost to them and their families who have diabetes,” Allan Coukell, Civica’s senior vice president for public policy, told an audience of around 200 guests Thursday morning at Brightpoint Community College in Chester. “I’m happy to say that we will be manufacturing quality insulin at an affordable price in Virginia.”
The maximum insulin cost from Civica should be around $30 to $35.
Coukell was one of many speakers – a list that also included Gov. Glenn Youngkin – at the event, which also served as a victory lap for the driving forces behind Richmond drug research and drug manufacturing in Petersburg to celebrate a $52.9 million from the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge initiative. The group was one of 21 across the country to receive funding from the program.
In his remarks, Youngkin highlighted the opioid epidemic that has enveloped Virginia in recent years and the role that manufacturers such as Civica, AMPAC Fine Chemicals and Phlow Corp. will play to help the state reduce the effects of opioid overuse.
“So, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that shows no signs of abating, the innovative public-private models that have surfaced here are needed more than ever to act so that we have a stable supply chain in drugs from Narcan and other essential drugs that are available,” Youngkin said.
Richmond-based Activation Capital was the lead fundraising partner behind the development of the pharma cluster. Chandra Briggman, the company’s president and CEO, called Thursday’s event a “culmination of two years of work, very hard work” merging the Petersburg and Richmond areas into one group with one goal. common. She warned, however, that the job was far from done.
“To build this type of industry takes billions of dollars, and we compete with foreign governments that subsidize at higher levels,” Briggman said. “We will continue to fundraise. We will continue to find partners, public and private, to help us succeed in building this cluster in the region.”
At the end of Thursday’s program, Youngkin presented a proclamation declaring Thursday “Essential Drug Shortage Awareness Day” in the state. These shortages, he said, were caused by many factors, including supply chain and funding, but groups like the cluster are helping Virginia “play a critical role in addressing supply issues.” pharmaceuticals that impede access” to these medicines.
Bill Atkinson (he/him/her) is an award-winning journalist covering breaking news, government and politics. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.