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Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk Invest Billions in North Carolina Manufacturing

Striving to meet the booming market demand for GLP-1 drugs, Lilly and Novo Nordisk are adding injectables manufacturing capacity—and around 1,600 jobs combined—in the cities of Concord and Clayton, NC.

Novo Nordisk, Clayton, North Carolina, US. New production facilities announced 24 June 2024. To be completed in 2027-2029. (Credit: Novo Nordisk)
Novo Nordisk, Clayton, North Carolina, US. New production facilities announced 24 June 2024. To be completed in 2027-2029. (Credit: Novo Nordisk)

Both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have invested in GLP-1 injectables manufacturing sites, with more capacity on the way.

With a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour on June 14, 2024, Lilly showed off its newest manufacturing plant in Concord, NC, designed to help relieve manufacturing bottlenecks for injectable GLP-1 drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound. The company doubled its initial investment in the facility from $1 billion to $2 billion. At full capacity, the plant will employ approximately 600 people, with around 400 positions filled thus far. 

The 1 million-plus square foot facility, set to start production in 2025, is part of a broader strategy to meet high market demand, which current facilities aren’t able to fulfill. The Concord plant—located at the old Phillip Morris manufacturing site—was completed in two years due to streamlined FDA collaboration and advanced robotic manufacturing technologies.

Anjalee Khemlani reports that the company has either identified or started building seven new facilities, investing $18 billion into the strategy, per executive vice president Edgardo Hernandez. Lilly LEAP Lebanon site in Indiana. (Credit: Eli Lilly)Lilly LEAP Lebanon site in Indiana. (Credit: Eli Lilly)

Also in the news: Last month, Lilly announced that it was increasing its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing investment to $9 billion at its Lebanon, IN, site to boost production of APIs for Zepbound, Mounjaro, and pipeline medicines. As companies look to reshore or nearshore API production, the company reports that it is the largest investment in API manufacturing of synthetic medicines in U.S. history. 

The news was followed by Novo Nordisk’s June 24 announcement of plans to invest $4.1 billion to build its second fill/finish manufacturing facility in Clayton, NC, for its GLP-1 weight-loss drugs Wegovy and Ozempic. Early clearing and foundational work are already underway, and construction will be finalized between 2027 and 2029.

“The expansion will add 1.4 million square feet of production space for aseptic manufacturing and finished production processes, doubling the combined square footage of all three of the company’s existing facilities in North Carolina,” says the Novo release. “It will also add 1,000 new jobs, besides the nearly 2,500 Novo Nordisk employees already working in the region, a central hub for innovation and biotechnology in the United States.”

The company is aiming for the facility to obtain LEED Gold certification and has plans for roof-top solar panels and “innovative water strategies.” 

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