Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. announced on Monday that it will invest $250 million in its 1,300-acre operations center in Western Michigan to produce the ingredients for its COVID-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid.
The Portage facility, south of Kalamazoo, will be the company’s only facility in the United States that produces drug ingredients for tablets. The investment will create 250 jobs at the plant, Pfizer said in a press release.
The timing of the investment is unclear.
Paxlovid, which received emergency use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December, is a prescription drug therapy intended for use in mild to moderate cases of the deadly coronavirus.
The pill drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, stop the coronavirus from replicating in the bloodstream. Patients take prescription antivirals twice a day for five days.
The Portage plant will produce pharmaceutical ingredients and register starting materials for nirmatrelvir, the company said in a statement.
“By increasing production at our Michigan facility, we are simultaneously helping patients around the world and introducing important manufacturing innovations in the US,” Albert Burla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, said in a press release. “This investment builds on our $5 billion investment in our manufacturing and distribution portfolio since 2017 to support the continued growth of US manufacturing leadership.”
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The main goal of Paxlovid is to prevent the hospitalization of a patient who tests positive for COVID-19. Pfizer claims an 88 percent reduction in hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 among adults treated within five days of symptom onset.
However, some patients and physicians report a “return” of COVID-19 symptoms after the end of five days of treatment. Burla proposes longer treatment regimen to FDA to prevent a rebound, but so far the FDA is not convinced.
“Currently, there is no evidence of benefit from a longer course of treatment … or a second course of Paxlovid treatment in patients with recurrent symptoms of COVID-19 after completion of a course of treatment,” said John Farley, director of the Office of Infectious Diseases. at the Food and Drug Administration, said in a post on the FDA website last month..
The US government has ordered 20 million Paxlovid courses, and about 5 million have been delivered to date, the company said. In total, Pfizer delivered 12 million courses of antiviral therapy to 37 countries.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crane’s Detroit business.