$22 million renovation, expansion set at drug plant

Owings Mills site to add technology center, jobs

December 06, 2004|By Kevin T. McVey | Kevin T. McVey,SUN STAFF

Shire Pharmaceuticals Group will spend $22 million for renovations and additions at its Owings Mills manufacturing plant and will employ 50 more workers next year, the company has announced.

Shire will break ground for a $6 million technology center on Gundry Lane in the Rosewood State Center on Thursday morning. The 19,000-square-foot addition to the plant will develop chemicals for Shire's drug products.

The plant also will be expanded with a $16 million, 40,000-square-foot facility to allow the company to package and store its products on site, Shire officials said.

Shire employs 225 people in Owings Mills. The payroll was $9.2 million last year, and the company projects a payroll of $12 million this year.

Shire produces pharmaceuticals to treat hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy and Crohn's disease. It recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manufacture the ulcer medication Pentasa, and production will begin early next year, officials said.

Shire Pharmaceuticals Group's world headquarters is in Britain. The company has a corporate headquarters in Wayne, Pa., and the Owings Mills plant is the company's only U.S. manufacturing location.

A Shire spokesman said the company looked closely at locations when it decided to halt outsourcing of drug manufacturing after its purchase of Atlantic Pharmaceuticals in Owings Mills in September 2002.

The company selected Baltimore County because it presented businesses and employment opportunities, the spokesman said.

Maryland participated in Shire's decision by helping the company arrange relationships with schools such as the University of Maryland.

Baltimore County facilitated Shire's plans through fast-track permitting, which allows businesses to expand rapidly, said David Iannucci, executive director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development.

"Given the state's focus on biotechnology, this allows us to market the county as a successful location for these businesses," Iannucci said.

Bill Monteith, vice president of operations for Shire Pharmaceuticals Group, said that when looking at an area's employment potential, relationships with universities and colleges are vital to the company.

"Academia benefits because students will obtain a level of expertise, and the industry wins because it will hire people who are already familiar with the system," Monteith said.

Monteith said the company decided to manufacture its own drugs because it could then control its products directly.

"This relates to compliance," Monteith said. "When someone else is manufacturing a product for you, they are interpreting FDA rules, but might not interpret those rules the same way the company interprets them, which can lead to problems."

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