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SEATTLE-Immunex Corp. plans to build a $500-million manufacturing plant–part of its BioNext Project–in Rhode Island. When completed, company officials say the facility will house the largest cell culture manufacturing center in the world.

“(This project) is a key element of the execution of our strategic plan designed to satisfy growing demand in existing and emerging markets,” says Peggy Phillips, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Immunex. “The construction of this new plant will make Immunex one of the world’s leaders in biotechnology manufacturing, a key goal given the success of our marketed products and our need for manufacturing pipeline products in the future.”

The BioNext Project involves an investment of approximately $500 million to construct the new facility, which will house the largest bioreactors ever used in the industry. Conceptual design of the facility is complete and the company anticipates beginning construction in the fourth quarter of this year, pending receipt of appropriate zoning and environmental permits. The project is expected to be licensed by regulatory authorities in 2005.

The BioNext Project will add to three other facilities that are producing, or will produce, ENBREL. Currently, Immunex is working with Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals, a division of American Home Products Corporation to retrofit an existing manufacturing facility on the West Greenwich, RI site. AHP purchased the facility in 1999 to help meet the growing market demand for ENBREL. AHP has agreed to sell the site to Immunex. AHP also is building a facility in Grange Castle, Ireland that will manufacture ENBREL. ENBREL, a drug used in the treatment of arthritis patients, is currently produced by a contract manufacturer in Germany.

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