J&J/Ethicon invests $185M in surgical suture plant expansion

Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon ($JNJ) is expanding, investing $185 million in a plant expansion in Athens, GA, to boost its ability to make more surgical sutures. The move will create 75 new jobs over the next few years, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Athens Banner-Herald report.

The news follows news of layoffs from a number of device companies including Covidien ($COV), St. Jude Medical ($STJ) and Boston Scientific ($BSX).

Johnson & Johnson plans to build the new 100,000-square-foot facility on the site of a facility run by Noramco, an Ethicon sister company that produces various pharmaceutical ingredients for both medical devices and medications, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle article. The new operation will complement existing operations that J&J/Ethicon maintains in Cornelia, GA, which makes raw materials for sutures, the Athens Banner-Herald notes. As well, plans also call for improving the company's existing Cornelia facility, which dates to 1947 and makes most of the world's surgical suture supply, Gov. Nathan Deal's office is quoted as saying.

Various Johnson & Johnson companies employ a combined 1,000 people in Georgia, the stories note.

J&J/Ethicon's expansion is a bit of good news, even as Ethicon continues to face fallout from safety problems involving its transvaginal mesh products. The company is one of several that produced the products and pulled four of them from the market in June in the face of hundreds of lawsuits challenging their safety.

- read the Atlanta Business Chronicle story
- check out the Athens Banner-Herald's take