A long list of multinational pharma companies count Puerto Rico as one of their top manufacturing bases, including 11 of the top 20 global pharma companies. Puerto Rico also manufactures half of the 2018 world’s top 10 bestselling drugs, underscoring the fact that the island is a pharma production powerhouse. We present five of the top companies manufacturing on the island.
Amgen opened its Puerto Rico facility in 1993 and it has gone on to become Amgen’s flagship manufacturing site. The facility boasts over 1.7 million square feet (518,160 square metres) of space and is where more than 90 percent of Amgen’s products are manufactured. Overall, 12 different drugs are manufactured in PR, from Enbrel to Neulasta, and their full range of manufacturing capabilities includes bulk drug substance manufacturing, formulation/filling, and packaging.
Rayne Waller is the vice president of manufacturing for Amgen in Puerto Rico and is entrusted with ensuring the facility’s growth. He told PharmaBoardroom, “Our site located, in Juncos is the flagship facility for Amgen and with over USD four billion in investment, it serves as the most important site in the network. Amgen is ever-expanding as our pipeline continues to grow and it is my intention to ensure that the Juncos site also grows in its capabilities and capacity to ensure we can meet Amgen objectives and serve our patients around the globe.”
In April 2001, Eli Lilly announced it was constructing a new biotech bulk manufacturing facility in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Construction started in July 2002 and, following inspection and commissioning, the plant was in production by mid-2006. This project was part of an overall USD one billion investment in the company’s facilities in Puerto Rico, which was completed in August 2006. Lilly already had a large presence in Puerto Rico with three other plants; two in Carolina manufacturing APIs for Prozac, Darvocet and Axid with a form-fill-seal facility, and one fermentation plant in Mayaguez that produced bulk antibiotics. Despite a company global restructuring, Humalog continues to be manufactured in Puerto Rico in bulk and then transported to the US operation for filling into dispensing pens ready for sale.
Victor Cruz, Eli Lilly’s vice president of manufacturing for Puerto Rico and Brazil, expanded on the company’s history on the island and the site’s global importance: “Puerto Rico has been an important hub for manufacturing for Lilly for more than five decades. PR01 has been consistently manufacturing and supplying key products since our beginnings in the 1960s and PR5 is one of the largest API manufacturing sites for Lilly globally, which has been growing its capacities to stay ahead of the growing demand of the insulin market. Diabetes is one of the main treatment areas of Lilly, in which we regularly launch new products, so we are continuously updating our strategic plan to ensure ongoing drug supply. Our aim is not only to supply the Puerto Rican and Latin American market but to supply more than 120 different countries around the world. Carolina is one of the main suppliers for nearly all Lilly affiliates worldwide.”
US pharma giant AbbVie currently has three manufacturing sites on the island, with the first one established in 1969.
Together these produce 13 products, including the company’s blockbuster arthritis treatment Humira (adalimumab), which was the world’s best-selling drug in 2018.
Pfizer is another pharma giant that operates manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico. Pfizer’s two manufacturing sites are located in Barceloneta and Vega Baja, and commercial offices are located in San Juan, with 2700 employees overall. Giuseppe Allocca is the site leader for the two operations and explained to PharmaBoardroom, “These two facilities are specialized in solid dosage manufacturing and supply 14 iconic brands of Pfizer, which are still key products today. The operations in Puerto Rico are a huge part of Pfizer’s supply chain, as our operations here cover every area from API manufacturing to packaging. We are not only producing for the US market but between 60 and 70 percent of our volume is exported globally.”
Allocca went on to highlight why Puerto Rico stands out as a manufacturing destination, “The main competitive advantage I see in Puerto Rico is the people working in the pharmaceutical sector, both in terms of competence and passion. The engagement the workforce here has with the industry is unique and is complemented by the knowledge exists on the island, through more than 50 years of pharmaceutical manufacturing experience and excellent training institutions. While other manufacturing hubs around the world do have the similar advantages, it is mostly the passion and dedication professionals put into their work in the industry here, that makes Puerto Rico an attractive destination for pharmaceutical manufacturing.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb joins the list of multinational pharma companies with a long history in Puerto Rico, manufacturing on the island and exporting its products globally.
BMS Puerto Rico’s general manager Leobardo Hidalgo spoke on behalf of manufacturing operations: “BMS has been operating in Puerto Rico for over 50 years. Over this time, our presence has grown to include commercial, manufacturing and clinical operations. Altogether, we currently employ around 950 people across our commercial site in Guaynabo, our manufacturing site in Humacao and our biomanufacturing site in Manatí. From our commercial site in Puerto Rico, we also manage the Caribbean region.”
Hidalgo exhibited a sense of pride in the fact that the Puerto Rico operations manufacture the company’s top-selling drugs: “In terms of manufacturing, the majority of our best-selling drugs in Oncology, Immunology and Cardiovascular are actually made in Puerto Rico and we feel proud to call them Boricuas. Eliquis, one of the most prescribed drugs for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation around the world, is manufactured in our Humacao site. Our biopharmaceutical facility in Manatí manufactures Opdivo, Yervoy and Orencia. The products produced on the island are distributed to 61 markets globally.”