- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2005

Human Genome Sciences made a major addition to its manufacturing complex in Rockville when it dedicated a 290,000-square-foot plant yesterday.

Together with its two companion facilities across the street on Belward Campus Drive, the large-scale manufacturing facility gives Human Genome Sciences (HGS) the nation’s fourth-largest biological manufacturing plant.

The plant’s twin 20,000-liter tanks for growing cells will be used to develop treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, hepatitis C, lupus and HIV/AIDS.

HGS paid the $230 million cost of the facility out of its cash reserves.

“We basically used our own finances,” said Tom Watkins, the company’s chief executive officer. “We’re fortunate.”

The plant is scheduled to begin production in about one year, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completes the required inspections.

However, the timeline for producing drugs still has “some uncertainty in it,” Mr. Watkins said.

HGS, which was founded in 1992, has not begun to sell any of the drugs it is developing because of regulatory and scientific obstacles. Its new plant will operate with as many as 250 employees when it is working at capacity, Mr. Watkins said.

Local officials who attended the dedication ceremony said the facility shows that their efforts to attract industry to Maryland are paying off.

“Human Genome Sciences is the personification of why we invest in biotechnology,” said Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat.

Without state and county efforts to attract biotechnology firms stretching back to the early 1980s, he said, “we wouldn’t be the ‘DNA Alley’ we are today.”

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, said HGS’ highly trained employees are examples of the “human capital” the state seeks for its industry.

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