Pfizer Inc. says it is making major investments in its animal health operations in Kalamazoo County’s Richland Township.

First the pharma giant announced a $6 million, 24,000-square foot research facility for studying new medicines for horses. The building will house horses during clinical studies for potential new vaccines.

Pfizer also announced a $3.75 million, 11,500-square-foot building for the initial processing of antivenin to treat people bitten by the Eastern coral snake or Texas coral snake. The antivenin produced there will be finished and packaged at the Portage manufacturing plant, Pfizer’s largest.

Pfizer spokesman Rick Chambers said another pharma firm, Wyeth, used to make this particular antivenin at a plant in Marietta, Ga. In 2003, based on business factors at the time, Wyeth decided to close that plant. Wyeth informed FDA and produced enough antivenin to last an additional five years. Wyeth also worked with FDA to conduct tests that led to extending the expiration date on those lots. As of now, there are two lots remaining that have expiration dates extended to October 2011.

In 2009, Wyeth joined Pfizer, creating a new biopharmaceutical company with broader resources in what is a very different business environment. The new Pfizer was able to look at the antivenin supply situation from a new perspective, factoring in its expanded resources, and made the decision this year to begin making the coral snake antivenin that Wyeth previously made.

According to the FDA’s web site, there are about 100 cases of coral snake bites in the United States annually.

Ground was broken for both facilities in late October. Construction will continue through the winter and should be finished by mid-2011. A total of six full-time workers will staff those two facilities (four in the equine research building, two in the antivenin building).

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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