RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Southeastern North Carolina’s rural Scotland County community of Maxton is getting 10 new jobs as the result of a $1.9 million investment in an expansion at the local Huvepharma factory.

The expansion, announced this morning in a news release issued by Gov. Roy Cooper, was propelled in part by a $40,000 economic development infusion from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Huvepharma is a global pharmaceutical company that develops and manufactures human- and animal-health products. Headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria, the company has locations throughout Europe and the United States, including this major North Carolina manufacturing site in Maxton.

Huvepharma has developed expertise in fermentation and the manufacture of its products. Its substantial growth has been due to a combination of internal success and acquisitions. Its U.S. headquarters are in Peachtree City, Georgia, about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta. And its Maxton, N.C., site is a useful snapshot of the way things keep changing in the life sciences – and in many other fields.

“In-ovo” egg injection line at Maxton facility. (Photo via NC Biotech Center)

This Maxton “footprint” was made in 2004 by Embrex, which at that time was an international agricultural biotechnology company that had been established in Research Triangle Park in 1985 as a spin-out from North Carolina State University.

Embrex evolved with the help of more than $260,000 in financial support from NCBiotech. It became Pfizer Poultry Health when Pfizer bought it in 2006 to capture the firm’s unique ability to develop and manufacture systems for injecting vaccines into poultry eggs so resulting hatchlings are protected from diseases even before they emerge.

In 2016, Huvepharma bought the Maxton plant from what was then Zoetis, a name Pfizer had conferred upon its animal health business segment four years earlier. In 2018, Huvepharma also bought some other global assets, including AgriLabs, T-HEXX Animal Health, and the animal health division of Neovia.

Today, the people working at the Maxton site still make coccidiosis vaccines for “in-ovo and post-hatch vaccination of poultry.” These are high-tech processes for protecting un-hatched and recently hatched chicks from nasty bugs.

Whittle it all down, good things are happening for North Carolina.

“Southeastern North Carolina has long been fortunate to be the home of Huvepharma’s animal health products manufacturing facility in Maxton,” says Randall Johnson, executive director of the NCBiotech Southeastern Office.

“Huvepharma’s investment, and this addition of much-needed new jobs here, are welcome signs of continued growth in our regional life sciences community. The fact that this important agricultural biotech company is thriving and growing in rural North Carolina is something for all of us to crow about.”

Huvepharma is a privately held subsidiary of Advance Properties, an investment holding company founded and controlled by Bulgarian entrepreneurs Kiril and Georgi Domuschiev. The company’s revenue grew from $350 million in 2015 to $644 million in 2019, mainly through organic expansion.

Global population growth and the rising consumption of animal-based protein support the global animal health industry. As the global food supply chain continues to increase efficiency, animal-health products of this kind are expected to contribute to productivity increases.

The expansion of this North Carolina Huvepharma facility will add another manufacturing line, allowing for additional production. The company’s 15 marketed products include six anticoccidials (therapeutics for the parasitic disease coccidiosis), three enzymes (designed to increase nutrients and reduce feed costs), two vaccines (against coccidiosis), and four other feed additives/veterinary products.

The company is also conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial of the therapeutic Ivermectin to battle COVID-19. This newly announced expansion could open the door for a future, larger expansion at the Maxton facility in the next few years.

While COVID-19 challenges industries around the globe, many life sciences companies, including Huvepharma, are experiencing increased demand for their products. Its expansion will create valuable new life sciences jobs in one of the state’s most economically struggling (tier 1) counties. And it lays a foundation for future growth.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center