- Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk is expanding its footprint in North Carolina, buying a manufacturing plant near Durham from current owner Purdue Pharma.
- Novo, one of the three major makers of diabetes medicines, already has a large presence in the state through its sprawling production facility in Clayton, North Carolina, a town about 40 miles southeast of Durham.
- By buying Purdue's site, Novo will gain production capacity for tablet dosage forms, something the drugmaker desired as it advances development of an oral version of semaglutide, the active ingredient in its injectable medicine Ozempic. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed.
Much of Novo's business involves injectable drugs like the insulins Novolog (insulin aspart) and Tresiba (insulin degludec) or other diabetes medicines like Victoza (liraglutide).
For production of those active ingredients, Novo can rely on its Clayton facility, which it began expanding in 2016 with a $2 billion commitment that remains the largest single investment in the company's history.
Novo's also investing in developing oral medicines like its tablet version of semaglutide, for which it needed greater manufacturing capacity.
"We wanted to establish tablet production capacity in the U.S. in order to build a domestic supply chain for oral semaglutide and future oral medicines," said a spokesperson for Novo in an emailed statement to BioPharma Dive.
Novo expects to be hiring at the site, the spokesperson added, but noted "it's premature to speculate on how many jobs and what the timing will be."
Purdue currently employees "fewer than 80 employees" at the plant, which is located in Treyburn, North Carolina, a spokesperson for that company confirmed.
"Treyburn was constructed to provide redundancy and a backup facility for Wilson," wrote Purdue Pharma CEO Craig Landau in an email sent to employees Aug. 1, referring to the company's facility in Wilson, North Carolina.
"Given the market dynamics and expected demand for our current portfolio of marketed products, the continued operation of Treyburn can no longer be justified," he added.
Purdue remains under scrutiny for its role in the opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S., and this year reached a $270 million settlement with Oklahoma.