Global biopharmaceutical company AbbVie announced Wednesday the expansion of its Barceloneta plant, at a cost of $30 million, to add to Puerto Rico’s capabilities as a manufacturing destination for biotechnology.
The expansion is expected to create up to 100 new jobs over the next two years, company officials said, flanked by Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla and members of his economic development team, during a news conference in Hato Rey.
“This investment demonstrates our commitment to Puerto Rico as a key element of our global manufacturing network. Our presence in Puerto Rico dates to 1969 and our patients benefit from our dedicated and talented local team,” said Stephen Muldoon, vice president of engineering and operations for AbbVie.
AbbVie has a total of three plants — two in Barceloneta and another in Jayuya — that generate more than 1,000 direct jobs combined on the island. All three AbbVie sites manufacture 13 products that support the therapeutic areas of immunology, virology and metabolic disorders.
With the expansion in Barceloneta, Abbvie expects to ramp up production of its flagship products Humira, Synthroid and Depakote, Muldoon said.
“This investment covers equipment, machinery, construction and validation activities at our facilities,” the executive said, noting that it will be searching for engineers and pharmaceutical science professionals to fill the new jobs that will be created.
Abbvie’s expansion was two years in the making, during which Puerto Rico competed with other jurisdictions, Muldoon said.
“We have global reach and we assessed all of our manufacturing network, including areas in the U.S. mainland, Singapore, Europe and Puerto Rico. Based on the technology that we’re going to bring, Puerto Rico was the correct location for this expansion,” he said. “We have a highly skilled biotechnology workforce in Puerto Rico and one of the most advanced facilities in the world [in Barceloneta.]”
For his part, García-Padilla noted that Abbvie’s decision to expand contributes to Puerto Rico’s standing as a biotech hub.
“AbbVie’s growth plans in Puerto Rico as well as its approach toward innovation and advanced therapies, gives us additional capabilities within the very competitive biopharmaceutical industry. Most important, their $30 million investment to expand their facilities is an encouraging expression of the company’s confidence in their future in Puerto Rico,” he said.
During the site consideration process, Abbvie received the government’s support, particularly through the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, which has assigned $1 million in one-time incentives to the company for job creation and infrastructure, agency Executive Director Antonio Medina-Comas said.
“AbbVie’s expansion reaffirms Puerto Rico as a global manufacturing powerhouse where talented people combine with pioneer technologies to create biopharmaceutical products that have a significant role in the lives of many people worldwide,” Medina-Comas said. “The incentives will be paid out once the jobs are created, and are non-recurring.”
Abbvie’s expansion is one of several reportedly in the pipeline, although government officials refrained from revealing how many more plants could add to their local operations, or when they would be announced.