- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Drug maker MedImmune Inc. said yesterday it will build a second manufacturing plant in Frederick as part of a growth plan that may create 840 new jobs in Maryland by 2008.

The Gaithersburg biopharmaceutical company said it will build a new office, laboratory and manufacturing facility next to its existing Frederick plant, which produces the child respiratory drug Synagis.

That project will increase production capacity in Frederick fivefold and accommodate up to 225 new workers, doubling the work force there, according to a company statement and spokeswoman Clarencia Stephen.

“We look forward to increasing our manufacturing capabilities as we seek to deliver new medicines to the market that may one day improve and protect human lives,” said Randall Turner, MedImmune vice president for engineering and facilities.

About 600 other jobs will be created at the company’s Montgomery County corporate headquarters through a continuing expansion there, according to MedImmune and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Ms. Stephen said the Gaithersburg headquarters has room for 2,200 workers, but that only about 900 people work there.

“I think it’s a positive step for the company and consistent with what their strategy has been and their business plan,” said Martha Freitag, an analyst with Argus Research Co., a New York independent research firm.

Ms. Freitag rated MedImmune a “buy” based on its potential future growth. She does not own any Medimmune stock, and Argus has no business with the company.

MedImmune said the first phase of the Frederick expansion, a 331,000-square-foot building, will boost production capacity for Synagis as well as for a potential next-generation drug, Numax, and other antibody products in the company’s pipeline, pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

Phase I of the Frederick expansion has an estimated price tag of $250 million, the company said. Completion of the building, the first of four potential phases, is expected in 2009, MedImmune said.

MedImmune, which also makes FluMist nasal influenza vaccine spray, has more than 2,000 workers worldwide, including the 226 in Frederick and 900 in Gaithersburg.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. called the announcement “a tremendous win.”

“It’s another example that our statewide biotech strategy to invest in and promote our biotechnology industry is working,” he said.

Aris Melissaratos, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, said the state is providing MedImmune with a $7.5 million loan that will convert into a grant if the company meets its job-creation goals. The state also is making $1.2 million in training grants available to MedImmune and offering $1,000 per job in tax credits.

He said Frederick County offered the company $3 million in property tax breaks over five years and waived about $250,000 in fees.

In addition to its Maryland locations, MedImmune has facilities in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pa.; Mountain View and Santa Clara, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Speke, England; and Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Its stock, traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market, rose 35 cents to $35.10 yesterday.

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