Daiichi Sankyo to Add 80 Jobs in Pa. Plant

Drug maker to Add 80 Jobs in the Valley [the Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.]


From Morning Call (Allentown, PA) (February 16, 2011)


Feb. 15--Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo Inc. has taken over the former Amcor packaging plant in Bethlehem Township and plans to add about 80 jobs this fall at what will become its first U.S. packaging operation.

The company purchased the 140,000-square-foot Amcor facility in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VI on Feb. 7 for $10.25 million, and has been offered $3.6 million in state assistance by Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration.

The aid offer includes a $250,000 grant, $100,000 in job training assistance, $3 million in loans and $246,000 in tax credits, conditioned upon the company employing at least 82 people at the end of three years, said Luke Webber, spokesman with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

The company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., is expected to have the Bethlehem Township facility operational by late summer or early fall and fully staffed by late fall. The total cost of the project is about $19 million.

Japan’s third-largest pharmaceutical company, Daiichi Sankyo focuses on branded cardiovascular and cancer therapy drugs and concentrates on treatments for hypertension, thrombosis, dyslipidemia, diabetes and acute coronary syndrome.

Its products include Benicar and Azor, which are used to treat high blood pressure, and the cholesterol drug Welchol.

Until now, the company has used contractors for packaging in the North American market.

If its in-house operation in Bethlehem Township goes well and economic conditions allow, the company may expand its activities to add light manufacturing, most likely converting drug compounds into medication like pills or capsules. That would require significant additional hiring.

"It is part of an overarching strategy to set up a base of operations in North America, which of course is a major market for Daiichi Sankyo Ltd.," said Jeff Lane, the company’s vice president of operations.

The move also alleviates some operational risk by lessening the company’s dependence on outside packaging contractors, he said.

The geographic location and Amcor’s previous use of the building for drug packaging made it especially attractive to Daiichi Sankyo, said Pete Reinke, vice president of regional development for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. which helped connect the company with government and utility company leaders.

Several former Amcor employees have already been hired to oversee the packaging operation and others are likely to be considered for the new jobs, which will primarily be hourly, Lane said.

Scoring a major international drug company facility will increase the Lehigh Valley’s visibility as a possible site location for the pharmaceutical industry, he said. "The more they hear about a region, the more other companies will be aware of what the Valley is doing," Reinke said.

Daiichi Sankyo worked with site selection firm McCallum Sweeney Consulting, which screened 62 sites in 48 communities in 12 states before settling on Bethlehem Township.

Amcor closed its pharmaceutical packaging operation last year, laying off about 100 workers.

DAIICHI SANKYO INC.

--U.S Headquarters: Parsippany, N.J.

--Local hiring: 80-plus workers to staff new packaging operation in Bethlehem Township.

--Key products: Benicar, Welchol, Azor.

--Employment: 29,272 worldwide, 3,000 in U.S.

--Global headquarters: Tokyo, Japan

--International 2010 profit: $450 million

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Copyright (c) 2011, The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.

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Posted: February 2011


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