Feb 8, 2023 - News

Utah-based nonprofit set to open $140M insulin plant in Petersburg

An insulin syringe with dollar signs along the side.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Petersburg is at the center of a nonprofit’s push to lower sky-high insulin costs.

What’s happening: Utah-based Civica Rx is in the final stages of building a $140 million insulin production plant in the city. It’s currently staffing up the facility and expects to begin retail sales in 2024, per Richmond BizSense.

Why it matters: Insulin is a lifesaving drug, but has become unaffordable for many patients, even with insurance.

  • Civica Rx has pledged to sell the three most common types of insulin for just $30 a vial, a huge markdown from the more than $300-a-vial retail price patients face now.

What they’re saying: “I think it’s going to be transformative,” Aaron Kowalski, CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, told the Times-Dispatch.

  • The foundation contributed $6 million to Civica’s insulin initiative.

Details: Civica was formed in 2018 by a consortium of hospitals and philanthropic groups, and both HCA and VCU Health have signed on as partners.

  • The company plans to produce generic versions of the three most popular types of insulin: Lantus, Humalog and Novolog.
  • The plant will have the capacity to produce 90 million vials and 50 million pre-filled pens a year.

The intrigue: Civica chose Petersburg in part because of its partnership with Richmond-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Phlow Corporation, Civica’s senior vice president Allan Coukell said during a panel last week.

  • Phlow was the beneficiary of a massive Trump-era contract to manufacture cheap generic drugs in the U.S. and has fallen under industry scrutiny for missing production deadlines.
  • The company, which plans to sell raw materials to Civica, contributed $100 million to help fund Civica’s manufacturing facility.

What’s next: Civica announced last September that it’s also planning to open a 55,000-square-foot lab in Chesterfield at the Meadowville Technology Park.

  • The company says the lab will provide quality testing for the Petersburg production plant and serve as a research and development facility.
  • Between the two facilities, the company expects to employ 250 people in the region.
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