Worcester Business Journal - July 16, 2015

Framingham biopharmaceutical firm LFB USA has pinned plans to build a new 65,000-square-foot manufacturing and laboratory facility in Marlborough in part on the expectation that its drug, ATryn, will soon receive FDA approval for the treatment of preeclampsia.

Fritz Reinhart, senior director of project management at LFB USA, said Wednesday that ATryn, which is currently approved to treat a hereditary disorder that causes blood clots, is in Phase 3 clinical trials as a preeclampsia therapy, and that the company hopes approval is on the horizon.

The product is owned by rEVO Biologics, also based in Framingham and a wholly-owned subsidiary of LFB USA. LFB, part of the European-based LFB Group, manufactures ATryn for rEVO. Reinhart said the company will need more room should ATryn be approved to treat preeclampsia, a leading cause of maternal and infant death.

LFB looks to in-source production

In the first phase of the project, expected to cost $37 million, LFB will construct manufacturing and laboratory space for the "upstream," or early-stage processing of ATryn, for the current market, Reinhart said. The company currently works with a contract manufacturer to handle all production of the drug, but ultimately, only the downstream end of manufacturing will be outsourced.

A second phase of the project to handle production of ATryn for preeclampsia patients could cost an additional $13 million, the company said.

LFB "drew a circle" around its existing operations, including its Framingham headquarters and its Charlton facility, to find the right building for a retrofit, or adequate land to build from the ground up, before it settled on Marlborough, according to Reinhart. Operations in both towns will be maintained following the Marlborough expansion.

Lured by the land

"Marlborough happened to have the land," Reinhart said. He added that LFB looked at properties in Framingham, but no existing building fit the bill and there wasn't adequate space to build.

Framingham officials, who have recently focused on making expansion in town more attractive for existing companies, were in touch with LFB executives on the project.

"We just couldn't find the kind of space and highway access they were looking for," said Arthur Robert, the town's director of community and economic development.

He added that the town is "largely built out."

"We're excited the company is growing and continuing to make contributions in MetroWest," Robert said.

LFB is seeking to build on Crowley Drive, home to the Marlborough Gateway Business Park. LFB would join other companies that have recently expanded or moved operations west to Marlborough from Natick and Framingham, such Boston Scientific and The TJX Cos.

It also will be part of Marlborough's growing biotech cluster: The city recently became home to Quest Diagnostics, and GE's Healthcare Life Sciences division and drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb are retrofitting space in Marlborough.

But while proximity to companies in similar industries is "nice," it's not a must, Reinhart said.

"I think this particular site was just the best," Reinhart said.

LFB said it will add 50 jobs at the Marlborough site over the next 10 years. According to documents filed with the state's Economic Assistance Coordinating Council, the company is pursuing full or partial tax credits – through a tax increment financing agreement, or TIF - over seven years beginning in 2016, a year before it expects to open the facility. The application was submitted to the Marlborough City Council on July 9 by Mayor Arthur Vigeant.

Written by Emily Mirucci