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Johnston County, NC Pharmaceutical Firms Begin Big Expansions

By Kevin Litwin on February 11, 2015

Pharmaceuticl companies play a major role in the economic development of Johnston County, NC. Three of the largest pharmaceutical companies are Hospira, Grifols and Novo Nordisk, while companies such as Custom Assemblies, Natvar and Becton, Dickinson and Company all supply or assist the three giants.

“Pharmaceutical companies choose Johnston County partly because of our close proximity to the Research Triangle Park near Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, since the RTP remains one of the largest research parks in the world,” says Chris Johnston, director of Johnston County Economic Development. “Johnston County also has good transportation links to Interstates 95 and 40 as well as CSX and North Carolina Railroad, and we are convenient to the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City. One more thing: Our county’s most important asset is a strong workforce.”

Novo Nordisk News

Two pharmaceutical companies in Johnston County are currently in the midst of huge expansion projects. Copenhagen, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries has operated a manufacturing facility in Clayton for 20 years, with 600 employees producing various types of insulin and pre-filled insulin delivery devices for the treatment of diabetes.

“We will spend $175 million over the next 2-3 years to add equipment, production lines and upgrade our facilities to double our output in Clayton,” says Steve Dawson, director, people and organization for Novo Nordisk. “We are a good industrial neighbor that supports the community, including a strong relationship with Johnston Community College and their BioWork curriculum that trains students in bioprocess technology as well as pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing. JCC also has an industrial maintenance program where we hire some of their top graduates.”

Growing Grifols

Also expanding is Grifols, a Barcelona, Spain-based company whose manufacturing association with Johnston County began in the 1970s. Today, more than 1,600 people work in Clayton for Grifols, making the company the largest private employer in Johnston County.

Grifols specializes in a fractionation process in which proteins are extracted from human blood plasma. The proteins go through a rigorous set of tests to ensure they are safe for eventual use in prescription drugs to treat a variety of illnesses. The drugs are typically targeted for the pulmonology, hematology, immunology and neurology sectors to treat auto-immune disorders, genetic forms of emphysema, hemophilia and shock patients.

“We are undergoing a $430 million expansion project that includes construction of a new building called our North Fractionation Facility that will increase our fractionation capacity,” says Punkaj Amin, Grifols director of corporate communications for North America. “Grifols is also constructing a 100-foot-tall Plasma Logistics Center for receiving plasma, and the center will become the tallest building in Johnston County.”

Amin says other construction projects include adding a raw materials warehouse and new office buildings.

“Our expansions will occur through 2015,” he says. “Grifols has always enjoyed being a part of this community, and these new projects show our commitment to remain and grow in Johnston County.”

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