Four years ago, plasma protein therapeutics company CSL Behring was busy expanding its capabilities in multiple spots around the globe . The company now operates in nearly 30 countries with approximately 13,000 employees. And it's growing again.
This week the company - whose headquarters are in King of Prussia, Pa. and whose parent company, CSL Ltd., is based in Melbourne, Australia - announced it would embark on a multi-year, $450-million two-site global capacity expansion. The investments include $240 million for a production capacity increase in plasma intermediates in Kankakee, Ill., and $210 million for an increase in albumin production at its Broadmeadows facility in Melbourne.
The company produces therapies for patients with rare and serious diseases around the world through what it calls a sophisticated interchange of plasma and plasma intermediates produced at four integrated global sites in Kankakee; Broadmeadows; Bern, Switzerland; and Marburg, Germany. Plasma intermediates are used to make albumin and immunoglobulins. Albumin is a plasma expander that quickly makes up for blood loss in accident victims, and that is also used to treat burn patients.
"About 200 jobs will be created during construction in Broadmeadows, and 190 highly skilled manufacturing jobs will be in place when the new facility is fully operational," said the company, noting that the new facility will comprise two manufacturing modules and construction of the first module will take about four years to complete. Broadmeadows currently has 650 employees. A separate release from the parent company notes CSL's global albumin product is currently manufactured by CSL Behring's US, German and Swiss facilities using plasma collected by CSL Plasma's international collection centers.
"The new facility at Broadmeadows will become an integral part of this global supply chain and will have the capacity to make a significant contribution to CSL's total global albumin output," said the company. "As part of CSL's ongoing expansion strategy, the company chose to add albumin manufacturing capacity at Broadmeadows following a competitive review of all CSL Behring sites within its global network. A strategic contribution from the Victorian Government was instrumental to the success of the Broadmeadows bid."
"CSL is proud to partner with the Victorian Government in undertaking this next important phase of expansion," said CSL CEO Paul Perreault. "The investment will generate significant economic returns for Victoria and further strengthen the role of the Broadmeadows site in our global manufacturing network."
The Broadmeadows is home to Australia's only plasma manufacturing facility and is contracted by the Australian Government to supply a broad range of high-quality plasma products for patients in Australia. CSL Behring works closely with the National Blood Authority and Australian Red Cross Blood Service to support Australia's goal of self-sufficiency in plasma products, and provides a similar service to several other countries in the Asia Pacific region. At full capacity, CSL estimates the annual commercial value of the albumin to be exported from the Broadmeadows facility could be approximately US$600 million.
The first therapy to be manufactured in the new Broadmeadows facility will be a novel blood clotting factor (rVIIa-FP) for the treatment of hemophilia, one of several longer-acting clotting factors under development by CSL, and entering clinical trials in the US, Europe and Australia.
Earlier this year, CSL Behring said it intended to build a leading-edge recombinant production site in Lengnau, Switzerland, where the company plans to produce proteins to treat immune deficiency diseases. The company also opened in May a new biotechnology manufacturing facility on the grounds of Broadmeadows, which also received support from the Victorian and Australian governments. It's part of an overall $250-million expansion investment at Broadmeadows. At the time of that grand opening, the company said it employed "about 12,000," indicating it's grown its worldwide payroll by at least several hundred in the past several months.
The 300,000-sq.-ft. Kankakee expansion is expected to be complete in 2017. The go-ahead comes after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's regulatory approval in September to commence operations from a previous expansion of Kankakee's manufacturing operation, which added 140,000 sq. ft.
The new facility will use the same state-of-the-art technology as CSL Behring's long-standing manufacturing center of excellence in Bern. "This is an important step towards a common fractionation process throughout CSL Behring's global manufacturing network," said the company.
"CSL Behring is committed to serving patients with rare diseases in all corners of the world," said Mary Sontrop, executive vice president global operations and planning. "In today's competitive market, we continually explore the latest technology that's available, and evaluate how it can make our operations and physical plant more efficient to meet patients' growing needs. Increasing Kankakee's ability to fractionate plasma and produce albumin and intermediate paste is an important step for our global operations."
The intermediate paste produced in Kankakee is sent to CSL Behring's other manufacturing facilities where it is used to make therapies for the treatment of immune deficiencies, bleeding and other medical disorders.