RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (WTVD) -- Many companies in central North Carolina are already on the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.
Now another facility is being built in Research Triangle Park.
Pre-filled syringe maker ApiJect Systems Corp. announced that it will be building a 'gigafactory' that will assist in the distribution of vaccines -- including the highly-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement comes after the company received a $590 million loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to construct a multi-facility one million square foot campus.
The ApiJect Gigafactory will feature the world's largest pharmaceutical fill-finish facility -- capable of producing up to 3 billion single-dose prefilled injectors annually.
The term "fill-finish" refers to the process of converting bulk drug volumes into individual injectable doses.
The campus will also have two dedicated special-purpose Drug Manufacturing Facilities to handle specialty pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and cytotoxics as well as an onsite needle and cannula factory.
The ApiJect Gigafactory is different from other pharmaceutical packaging facilities because, rather than pouring injectable drugs into small glass vials, the Gigafactory packages medicines and vaccines into single-dose, pharmaceutical-grade plastic containers.
For that reason, ApiJect says that the supply chain that supplies the Gigafactory requires fewer raw materials, is significantly shorter, and can be sourced in the U.S.
ApiJect said it chose North Carolina as its site for three reasons: 1. RTP is home to a number of major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, which allows the Gigafactory to access a highly skilled labor force. 2. It is important that the Gigafactory be near major transportation networks in case emergency transportation is needed. 3. Having the campus located in a more temperate climate reduces the likelihood of the weather impacting production schedules in an emergency.
Site clearing has already begun, along with design planning. Groundbreaking is expected to begin by the end of 2020 and will continue through 2021. The first production lines are expected to be ready to commence operations in the first half of 2022. Full operational capacity for the main 15 BFS production lines at the Gigafactory is scheduled for late 2023.
The company estimates that the project will bring about $300 million in construction-related spending to the area.
Once fully operational, the ApiJect Campus will create a projected 650 jobs at all levels, with estimated average annual salaries of $60,000 for operators to more than $100,000 for technically-skills positions.