Bard pours $40M-plus into Puerto Rican device production expansion

C.R. Bard ($BCR) is pouring more than $40 million into a major expansion of its device manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico. Plans also call for adding 200 jobs over the 5-year project, which will be completed in phases, a local economic official noted at BIO this week.

The company's Bard Shannon division is based there and makes things like catheters and scaffolding material to treat hernias and vaginal prolapses, according to Victor Merced, director of the life sciences team for Puerto Rico's Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Merced spoke to FierceMedicalDevices about Bard's expansion during the 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston. He explains that economic development officials announced the news a few weeks ago in Puerto Rico, but the company hasn't publicized its investment beyond the island.

Bard will be reconfiguring existing space to produce 33 additional products at the Las Piedras facility, Merced noted to FierceMedicalDevices, including cardio pulmonary equipment, and additional mesh products to help field hernia and vaginal prolapse repair. And Bard will hire new manufacturing, engineering and scientific talent to fill the slots created by the expansion. More than 360 people work there now.

He asserts that New Jersey-based Bard and other medical device companies are turning to Puerto Rico because of its educated and experienced work force (the pharmaceutical industry has been there for decades but has been cutting back). Additionally, Merced pointed out, average wages for the device industry are as much as 50% lower than in the continental U.S.

Merced also told me that German medical device company Sartorius is opening an expanded facility within a week. This $25 million expansion and the 87 new jobs it brings will help Sartorius produce more filtering devices for blood and other fluids, as well as bioreactors.

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