South Korean insulin manufacturer moves closer to West Virginia project

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A ribbon cutting in Bethesda, Maryland Tuesday could mean more than 1,000 pharmaceutical manufacturing-related jobs in the Morgantown area.

South Korea-based insulin manufacturer UNDBIO is opening its research and development facility to begin the federal approval process, according to Steve Leech, a consultant working with the company.

“They will do samples on their testing and make sure the insulin product meets all the standards,” Leech said. “Then they will send it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval then they will start manufacturing in West Virginia.”

Leech said the company has received guidance on navigating the FDA approval process for the proprietary manufacturing method that will lower the cost of insulin. U. S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and all levels of state leadership are also helping UNDBIO work through the approval process, Leech said.

“They are just down the street from where the FDA is, so they’re actually already doing some communication about the product,” Leech said. “They’re bringing over world renowned scientists and people that have developed the product in Korea.”

The company has plans to build the manufacturing facility in the West Virginia University Research Park. Leech said the project is valued at about $100 million and is expected to employ as many as 1,200 when fully operational.

“They have signed a lease and they want to do a groundbreaking to build that facility in the February, March or April time frame,” Leech said. “They hope to be up and running in 12 to 24 months.”

Leech and UNDBIO officials believe the area will have the workforce to support the operation. Additionally, Leech said they plan to partner with WVU on other research projects as well.

“Mylan was there, WVU is there and they’re going to work with them on some research projects,” Leech said. ” We’re hoping the job market will facilitate everything they’ll need.”

The CDC reports more than 34 million people in the country have diabetes and one in 10 West Virginians are affected by the disease. The data also shows nearly 20-percent of people with diabetes skipped, delayed or rationed insulin due to cost.

“They will provide all of North America and the world with the insulin products and it will be a much lower price than we are currently paying,” Leech said.

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