Drugmaker Nephron could expand S.C. plant

Drugmaker Nephron could expand S.C. plant

March 26th, 2012 // 12:06 pm @

Nephron Pharmaceutical’s new facility near Cayce, SC will be a major research and development center for new products the drugmaker wants to offer.

The Orlando, Fla.-based company is looking to expand beyond generic respiratory medicine with anti-cancer and eye-care products among possibilities, company owners William and Lou Kennedy said Thursday at a celebration kicking off the project. That could mean more jobs for the Midlands than the 700 initially promised, they said.

The new medicines — already being worked on by Nephron’s research partners, including the University of South Carolina — “look promising,” Lou Kennedy said. “We hope to bring more jobs than we committed to,” she said. “This could be bigger and better than we dreamed.”

New products in the works are “only the beginning,” USC President Harris Pastides said.

The company has or is developing similar research partnerships with unspecified entities that could lead to “a lot more,” enabling Nephron to expand significantly its role as a global supplier of generic medicine, William Kennedy said.

Nephron hopes to finish the first part of what it says will be a $313 million facility by late 2013 and begin manufacturing medicine there in 2014.

Its 1.2 million-square-foot facility near interstates 26 and 77 is in a Lexington County industrial park.

Nephron’s facility will be a neighbor of online retailer Amazon’s distribution center, which opened in October.

Thursday’s celebration occurred amid the rumble of earthmovers clearing the 60-acre site for construction.

“There’s a lot of work going on, which is totally to my liking,” Lou Kennedy said.

The Kennedys pledged $30 million to the USCs pharmacy program in 2010, money the school hopes will provide pharmacy students with business skills. The gift was the second-largest in school history. Bill Kennedy graduated from USC’s pharmacy school in 1966 and moved to Florida, where he went to work as a pharmacist. Buying and expanding a pharmacy chain of his own, Kennedy also started a mail-order pharmacy service that eventually became a nationwide business.

In the 1990s Kennedy bought Nephron, which makes sterile generic respiratory medications at its Orlando headquarters. Wife Lou is a graduate of USC’s journalism school.

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