The Allergan plant in Waco employs about 700 people. Its $200 million expansion would nearly double the size of the facility.

Pharmaceutical giant Allergan said last year it would spend $200 million to nearly double the size of its Waco facility and predicted construction would start before the end of 2016. That did not happen.

But Bobby Horner, inspections supervisor for the city of Waco, said this week Allergan has submitted a site plan for the proposed 322,000-square-foot addition and received a permit to start grading.

Allergan is continuing to work through engineering and design at the corporate level for a project that could create 100 jobs in the near future and 250 when production peaks, said Kris Collins, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Allergan, based in Dublin, Ireland, chose the Waco facility from among several internationally to receive an upgrade. It employs about 700 people and specializes in manufacturing eye treatments including Restasis, Lumigan, Combigan, Refresh Plus, Refresh Tears and Latisse.

Company officials touted Allergan’s dedication to research and the fact it has about 70 new drugs in the final stages of research as one reason it needed to create additional manufacturing space.

Baylor University economist Tom Kelly prepared a report for Allergan that shows its $200 million expansion would give the Central Texas economy a $522 million jolt during the first year of construction, as money spent on labor and materials multiplies as it travels through the economy.

Once the expansion is complete, probably by 2020 or 2021, the plant’s operations would have a $461 million annual impact on the area, according to the report.

Allergan was looking for a positive story about its economic impact locally and nationwide, Kelly said this week.

A deal between Allergan and Pfizer was pending at the time that would have slashed Pfizer’s tax burden. The companies were taking heat for the deal, which would have moved Pfizer’s headquarters from the U.S. to Allergan’s home base of Ireland, even though Pfizer is the larger company, Kelly said.

The $160 billion deal was called off after the U.S. Treasury adopted rules to prevent so-called “inversions.”

Kelly said his analysis revealed the plant was operating at full capacity, and that it was a prime candidate for expansion if Allergan indeed needed to create additional manufacturing space in its system.

“They considered the success of the plant since it opened about 30 years ago, and its proximity to Baylor University and Texas A&M, which provides training for chemists and biologists, and they agreed to target the Waco facility, which has been a star in the industrial district,” Kelly said.

Allergan President and CEO Brent Saunders announced his decision during a news conference attended by community and business leaders.

Since Allergan’s merger with Pfizer collapsed, Allergan has embarked on a spending spree that has continued into 2017, according to its website.

Acquisitions include a regenerative-medicine company called LifeCell for $2.9 billion and the rights to a Crohn’s-disease drug for $1.3 billion.

Others include the $2.47 billion purchase of Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., which specializes in a controlled-cooling technology; the $1.65 billion purchase of Tobira Therapeutics, which is developing treatments for liver ailments; the $50 million up-front purchase of Akarna Therapeutics, another company developing medications for liver ailments; the $639 million purchase of Vitae Pharmaceuticals, a dermatology company; and the $60 million up-front purchase of RetroSense Therapeutics, a gene-therapy company that is working on a treatment for a cause for blindness.

Collins, with the Waco chamber, said she is working on an incentive package for Allergan that may include tax breaks and money from the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corp.

Allergan officials declined to comment on delays in starting the expansion in Waco, though spokesman Mark Marmur said in an email message the company would have an announcement Friday on Waco operations.

Get Trib headlines sent directly to you, every day.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

Load comments