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Washington state’s only COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, Jubilant HollisterStier in Spokane, to add 200 jobs with $92M expansion

June 15, 2021 Updated Tue., June 15, 2021 at 7:32 a.m.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Jubilant HollisterStier is adding 200 more jobs in Spokane as part of a $92 million expansion of the company’s North Regal Street manufacturing plant.

The 50,000-square-foot expansion will bring several new tools to the Spokane plant, including a state-of-the-art high-speed injectable liquid filling line, said Jubilant President Amit Arora.

Jubilant HollisterStier develops sterile injectable products used globally to treat a variety of conditions, including cancer and fungal infections. The company is reportedly the only pharmaceutical manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in the state of Washington, capable of producing up to 500,000 doses per day.

Jubilant’s existing 230,000-square-foot manufacturing plant can produce 110 million vials per year via two fill lines. Arora said the expansion will increase capacity by 50%.

The company, a subsidiary of Jubilant Pharma Limited, hopes to break ground sometime before winter, anticipating a 2024 completion.

“With two facilities in North America working to manufacture multiple COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, we remain committed to supporting efforts to eradicate this global pandemic and are prepared for a potential future pandemic response,” said Pramod Yadav, CEO Jubilant Pharma Limited, in a statement. “This expansion will also help us meet high demand from our global Specialty Pharmaceutical customers, with whom the company has established strong relationships.”

Not counting jobs coming with the expansion, Jubilant HollisterStier employs approximately 800 workers, including 300 hired locally since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of last week, Jubilant has already hired for 40% of the jobs coming with the expansion, Arora said. He said the new hires are all from the Northwest.

“I think that’s one of the benefits which the area will definitely get: The creation of more jobs,” Arora said, “And not just jobs, but high-end jobs.”

Arora said plans for the $92 million expansion have been in the works for about 18 months, as the company was working 24/7 to meet customer demand even before the pandemic.

“The lack of compliant contract manufacturers is something which is increasing business for compliant (manufacturing organizations),” he said, “and we are right up there when it comes to compliance, when it comes to regulatory audits with agencies or with customers. We’ve performed really, really well in the last some years, which is drawing the attention of these large companies to us.”

Jubilant, however, is not planning to reduce its workforce whenever the pandemic subsides.

“COVID or no COVID, we would have expanded and added this plant just to meet existing demand from non-COVID products,” Arora said. “If COVID continues, which we believe it might for some time with booster shots coming up and all that stuff, we will continue to support our American and our global needs as they rise.”

The company has been producing remdesivir, a treatment option recommended by the World Health Organization.

In addition, Jubilant HollisterStier announced earlier this year the company is working with Novavax, an American biotechnology company, to provide fill-finish manufacturing services for the production of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. Novavax announced Monday the vaccine demonstrated 90.4% overall efficacy, and 100% protection against moderate and severe disease, in a clinical trial with 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the U.S. and Mexico.

Jubilant is also developing bamlanivimab, a COVID-19 therapeutic, through the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.

Jubilant will build out the new 50,000-square-foot addition on the back side of the plant, adjoining the existing facility through a passage to connect the new fill line with an existing line, Arora said. The new liquid fill line will be capable of filling up to 400 vials per minute, according to the company.

Jubilant last added a new fill line in 2007, Arora said. In addition to the fill line, the company is adding two 300-square-foot lyophilizers; Arora said lyophilizers are used to freeze products that are less stable in liquid form, increasing their shelf life.

Arora said he expects Jubilant to pay for the $92 million through a combination of internal accruals and borrowing. He said the immediate next step in the expansion is to iron out the funding plan.

“This has been a good momentum for us,” he said, “and we hope, and we are very sure, we can continue to build on the momentum and get more and more in Spokane.”

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