Bristol-Myers Squibb plans $250m expansion of Devens biologics facility

Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company, announced plans Thursday for a $250 million expansion of its large-scale biologics manufacturing facility in Devens.

The expansion will introduce biologics development and clinical trial manufacturing capabilities to the site, while eventually adding about 350 employees to the Devens workforce, the company said in a press release. The current head count at Devens is about 400.

“Biologics are increasingly important in the treatment of serious diseases and are a growing part of our company’s pipeline of potential new therapies,” Lou Schmukler, the company’s president of global manufacturing and supply, said in a statement. “This initiative is designed to accelerate the development of new biologics medicines through the closer alignment of biologics research and development, and manufacturing.”

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Bristol-Myers Squibb said it plans to construct two new buildings on its 89-acre Devens campus. Together, the two buildings will add about 200,000 square feet of laboratory and office space to the Devens site, which is now made up of six major buildings in a 400,000-square-foot complex.

Construction of the Devens site was completed in 2009. It was Bristol-Myers Squibb’s first major facility in Massachusetts and the largest capital investment in its history – $750 million – and helped signal the company’s transformation into a next-generation biopharmaceutical company.

Work on the expansion is expected to begin in late 2013 and be completed in 2015. In the interim, Bristol-Myers Squibb has leased 30,000 square feet of laboratory space in nearby Hopkinton to begin moving some biologics process development functions closer to Devens during construction.

The Devens facility currently manufactures the active drug ingredient for Orencia, a drug that reduces signs and symptoms in adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Shortly after the company’s announcement, Governor Deval Patrick issued a statement on the news. Patrick has made nurturing the life sciences a priority of his administration.

“Thanks to our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure, Massachusetts leads the world in life sciences,” Patrick said. “Our economic development team worked closely with Bristol Myers-Squibb as they weighed their options for where to expand, and we look forward to them creating more jobs and economic opportunities here in Massachusetts.”

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