Bristol-Myers Squibb today unveiled plans for a $250 million expansion of its large-scale biologics manufacturing facility in Devens, MA, that will introduce capabilities in biologic drug development and clinical trial manufacturing, and nearly double the workforce there over time.

Some 400 employees now work at BMS’ Devens site, completed in 2009 at $750 million, the largest capital investment in the pharma giant’s history. BMS said it will add about 350 new jobs as a result of the expansion, which will broaden the site’s operations beyond large-scale, bulk biologics manufacturing.

BMS will construct two new buildings with a total of about 200,000 square feet of laboratory and office space on the 89-acre Devens complex, which now consists of six major buildings totaling 400,000 square feet. One of the new buildings will be for the Process Development group, which designs processes for early production of investigational biologics medicines. The other new building will house Clinical Manufacturing, where investigational medicines will be produced to support clinical trials.
“This project represents a significant expansion in both the size and mission of Devens,” Peter Moesta, senior vp of BMS’ Biologics Manufacturing and Process Development unit, said in a statement. “We envision Devens as a center of excellence for the development and manufacture of biologics medicines, optimally organized to support our growing pipeline of investigational medicines and potential new products.”

Work on the expansion is expected to begin in late 2013 and be completed in 2015. In the interim, BMS will begin moving some biologics process development functions closer to Devens during construction of the expansion, into 30,000 square feet of laboratory space the company agreed to lease in nearby Hopkinton, MA. BMS said it intends to maintain that space until construction is completed.

BMS manufactures the rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia® at Devens. The company agreed to build its complex in 2006 after winning $60 million in state and local incentives. 

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority, has agreed to provide a partial and temporary abatement of the incremental new property taxes resulting from the newly constructed facilities. The abatement will reduce BMS’ property taxes by an average of 38% over 13 years.

“The value of this abatement will depend on the ultimate assessment on the new construction, but Bristol-Myers Squibb estimates that it will save $5 million over 13 years,” Kelsey Abbruzzese, a MassDevelopment spokeswoman, told GEN.

Later this year, the pharma giant can also apply for this year’s Tax Incentive Program offered by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), spokesman Angus McQuillan told GEN earlier today. MLSC is the quasi-public agency that implements the 10-year, $1 billion Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, enacted in 2008 by Governor Deval Patrick. The act authorizes MLSC to award up to $25 million in tax incentives each year to companies engaged in life sciences R&D, commercialization, and manufacturing in Massachusetts.

BMS cited the presence of MLSC as a factor in its decision to expand Devens in the statement, which also cited the Devens site’s success and the state’s abundance of biopharma education and trained workers. 

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