Novo Nordisk Breaks Ground for $1.8B Drug Plant in Clayton

By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer


Novo Nordisk has officially begun building a $1.8 billion production facility for diabetes medicines at its Clayton site that will create 700 high-paying jobs, doubling its workforce there.

The project is reported to be the single largest manufacturing investment in North Carolina history.

Once completed, the new facility will measure 833,000 square feet and have a footprint of 417,639 square feet, or about seven football fields, Novo Nordisk said in a news release. As many as 2,500 people will be working on the project at peak construction.

New jobs at the facility are projected to pay an average salary of $68,000, the company said. That would be $22,000 more than the current average salary and $15,000 more than the median household income in Johnston County.

More than 100 community members, employees and policy makers attended a ceremonial groundbreaking event on March 28 featuring Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and chief executive officer of Novo Nordisk, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

"Novo Nordisk's billion-dollar decision to bring this landmark manufacturing facility to North Carolina underscores its commitment to our state and confidence in our state's talent," McCrory said. "This expansion of the current site and workforce highlights our ability to be a leader in biomanufacturing at the global level."

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The facility will produce active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for a range of Novo Nordisk's current and future glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and insulin medicines. Once fully operational in 2020, the facility will ensure production capacity for diabetes medicines in the U.S. for the decade ahead, the company said.

"As the prevalence of diabetes has grown in the U.S., so too has the demand for effective treatments," said Sørensen. "It gives me great pride to break ground on our new facility site in Clayton where we have an existing, strong organization. This site will play a vital role in enabling us to meet the needs of people living with diabetes in the U.S. for years to come."

An estimated 29 million Americans have diabetes, and the disease is the seventh leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 1 million North Carolinians have either been diagnosed with diabetes or may have the disease but not know it.

Clayton campus has seen multiple expansions

The new facility will be adjacent to Novo Nordisk's 457,000-square-foot Clayton plant, which has been expanded several times since it opened in 1996. The plant is one of the company's strategic production sites responsible for formulation, filling and packaging of diabetes medicines. The plant also assembles and packages the company's FlexPen and FlexTouch prefilled insulin devices for the U.S. market.

Once the new plant becomes operational, the diabetes API production organization in Clayton will be named DAPI-US (Diabetes Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients – US). It will be part of the Danish diabetes API production organization in Kalundborg, which will be named DAPI-Denmark.

Novo Nordisk announced in August 2015 that it would invest $2 billion in production facilities in Clayton; Malov, Denmark; and Kalundborg, Denmark, with $1.8 billion of this amount being invested in the Clayton plant. That same day, the company announced it would initiate phase 3a development of oral semaglutide, a GLP-1 analogue formulated as a once-daily tablet for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk, headquartered in Bagsvaerd, Denmark, is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years in diabetes care and additional experience in developing treatments for other serious chronic conditions including hemophilia, growth disorders and obesity. With U.S. headquarters in Plainsboro, N.J., Novo Nordisk has more than 5,000 employees in the United States.

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