Eisai breaks ground yet again in RTP
By JEFF ZIMMER, The Herald-Sun
November 13, 2006 11:15 pm
DURHAM -- For the fourth time during the past 10 years, Eisai Inc. officials on Monday stuck ceremonial shovels into Research Triangle Park soil as part of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building.
The first time, in 1996, was for the pharmaceutical company's initial 85,000-square-foot facility.
The ceremony Monday marked the third expansion for the drug maker, this time a $90 million, 65,000-square-foot building where the company will develop and manufacture cancer therapies. A $15 million central utilities building also is part of the project.
When the new buildings open for business sometime in 2009, they'll be part of a 255,000-square-foot complex on the company's 130-acre site on Davis Drive in the Durham County portion of RTP.
The new construction will add 59 new jobs by the time the buildings become operational in 2009 and a total of 84 new jobs over the next five years, according to the company.
Eisai, which has its U.S. headquarters in Teaneck, N.J., has about 265 employees at its RTP facility.
Monday's groundbreaking ceremony, which drew more than 300, followed the County Commissioners' approval earlier this year of incentives valued at $1 million for the project.
The company currently makes drugs for Alzheimer's disease and heartburn at the site, and the new building will house development and manufacturing operations for intravenous cancer drugs that are working through the approval process.
"What can you do that is better than help Alzheimer's patients? What is better than doing what they're going to do to help cancer patients?" asked former Gov. Jim Hunt, who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Folks, this is a wonderful company [and] we are so fortunate to have them here -- so today is a day to celebrate."
In 1998, the company's RTP site began manufacturing Aricept, the first Alzheimer's disease therapy to hit the market. The drug has gone on to become the most widely prescribed drug for the disease.
The company's first expansion was completed in 2001 and housed the manufacturing operation for Aciphex, a heartburn therapy.
But while the company's RTP site manufactures only U.S. supplies for those therapies, the new production and formulation facility will deliver cancer therapies around the world.
"The medicines we make in this facility will help [patients] around the globe," Lonnel Coats, president and chief operating officer of Eisai, said Monday. "So this truly will be a global facility."
Like many of the speakers during the event, Coats noted the company was celebrating not only the start of a new building but also the Eisai's 10th anniversary in RTP.
"Eisai has a strong history of success in the United States," said Hajime Shimizu, Eisai Inc.'s chairman.
About 40 percent of Eisai's annual sales of $2.5 billion are in the United States, he said.
"I believe during the next 10 years we will continue to grow together," Shimizu said.
Toshio Arai, the senior executive vice president of Eisai Co., the Japanese parent company, thanked employees for helping the company succeed.
"The best predictor of future success is past performance," Arai said. "It is for this reason I have confidence that Research Triangle Park will continue to be our key strategic site in the future."
Eisai's parent company focuses its therapies on four areas: neurology, oncology, gastrointestinal disease and acute care products for hospitals. The company's RTP site has operations that touch on three of those areas.
In addition to producing Eisai's U.S. supplies of Aricept and Aciphex, a formulation division also works to develop dosage forms, manufacturing processes and quality analysis for intravenous oncology products.
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