Seattle-based Dendreon has yet to get FDA marketing approval for Provenge, a next-gen therapeutic cancer vaccine, but the company has confidently blueprinted plans to build a $70 million manufacturing facility to produce it in Atlanta.
Dendreon electrified the biotech market earlier this year when it released positive Phase III survival data on Provenge, a breakthrough therapeutic vaccine that is widely expected to reach blockbuster status. And unlike most developers, Dendreon has been determined to keep full U.S. rights.
The decision to keep control of Provenge in the U.S. is spurring some big building plans. Dendreon is completing a facility in New Jersey and has another site selected in Orange County, CA. Because the prostate cancer vaccine relies on cells extracted from a patient's tumor, it needs manufacturing sites from coast to coast.
"We have a time period, 18 hours after cells are taken, to deliver them to the plant and ship them back," Dendreon CFO Greg Schiffman tells FierceBiotech. Regional facilities help deal with the logistical challenge. Schiffman says that the LA facility will ikely cost around the same amount as the one in Atlanta. And he adds that the company is in active discussions with potential partners for international markets.
Economic development officials in Georgia were quick to highlight the coup, which was first reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
"Hosting the 2009 BIO International Convention in May introduced biotechnology companies like Dendreon Corporation to Georgia's business assets," said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. "Our state's world-class health-care institutions and hospitals enable companies like Dendreon to conduct clinical research and engage in product development while benefiting from the vast scientific resources that Georgia has to offer."
The preparatory work being done to roll out Provenge has been burning cash at Dendreon. The developer announced that it lost $127 million in the second quarter as it prepares to move into commercialization.