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PHARMACEUTICALS
A Site Selection Web Exclusive, September 2010
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Pharmony Near Philly

Drug development specialist Almac consolidates operations near Philadelphia.

by JOHN W. McCURRY
Pharmaceuticals
Almac has begun moving into its new North American headquarters in Souderton, Pa.
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raigavon, Northern Ireland-based Almac expects to fully occupy its new North American headquarters in Souderton, Pa., by the end of the year. The drug development services specialist will consolidate approximately 550 employees from its Clinical Services, Clinical Technologies and Sciences business units, currently located in Audubon and Yardley, Pa.

The US$120-million project, which began in summer 2008, involved two buildings. Building 1, a three-story, 74,250-sq.-ft. (6,897-sq.-m.) office building, will house administrative teams from Almac's Clinical Services, Clinical Technologies and Sciences business units. Key functional areas, which the company says are designed to enhance employee performance and meet customer needs, are also located in Building 1, including a network operation center, meeting rooms, staff breakout areas, customer audit rooms, training rooms, learning lab, library and a packaging design room.

Building 2 is a partial two-story, 166,135-sq.-ft. (15,433-sq.-m.) building custom built for the production, analysis and distribution of clinical supplies. Key features include greatly expanded capacity in material storage areas, the introduction of analytical labs to the U.S. and a more streamlined layout for materials management from receipt through the warehouse to distribution.

Almac selected the site in Souderton, which is about 30 miles (48 km.) north of Philadelphia, after looking at several locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"We looked at the marketplace and we looked at where it is located," said Joe Bedford, Almac's director of marketing. "New Jersey and Pennsylvania are known as pharma country and there are several pharma and biotech firms within an hour and a half of our facilities. Clients who want to come and check out our technology can hop in a car and get to our facilities. We wanted to stay in state and also put all of our employees under one roof."

Almac officials say the new facilities will consolidate its planning, packaging, distribution, analysis and technology operations and will also facilitate "Pharmony," a word the company coined to describe a streamlined approval process. Almac says the integration will make clinical trials more effective and more efficient.

Almac says the new facilities will provide increased storage space, a need which is sparked by current trends and forecasts in the pharmaceutical industry regarding the growing demand for biologics. Biologics, which are protein based, require cold storage to prevent degradation while "small-molecule" drugs (non-protein based) can be stored at room temperature.

"Much of the demand coming from customers has been in this area," said Mark Rohlfing, director of quality at Almac. "Our current cold storage capacity in Audubon was limited, hence the 400-percent increase in capacity. We have also built large cold stores at our other sites in recent years to support this change."

Almac has already begun the process of hiring 175 new employees. A strong labor pool in the region was another reason for choosing Souderton.

"There are a lot of talented professionals located in this area," Bedford says. "We are able to recruit from the Philadelphia and Princeton areas."

Bedford says Almac worked closely with Gov. Ed Rendell's administration

"The completion of our new NAHQ facility will support our continuing business growth and better enable the fulfillment of Almac's mission to advance human health by bringing new drugs to market sooner," said Alan Armstrong, Almac's CEO.

Almac has also completed recent expansions at other locations. Earlier this year, it completed a £9-million (US$13.9-million) expansion to the company's existing facilities in Craigavon.

In late 2009, Almac completed a 67,000-sq.-ft. (6,224-sq.-m.) expansion to its North Carolina facility in Durham, which now houses both the Clinical Services and Diagnostics Divisions. Almac also maintains a clinical technologies operation in San Francisco.

Almac is a privately held company and employs more than 2,600 people globally. It currently has more than 600 customers.


Story in Pictures

Almac has invested $120 million in a new two-building campus north of Philadelphia.

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The Site Selection Life Sciences Report features exclusive and in-depth reporting and analysis on the most important life science projects and issues. Topics covered include pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing, biotechnology, medical device manufacturing, health-care services facility trends, clinical research and other key life science sectors.


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