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S.C. company building lab for potential COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 7:37 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Nephron Pharmaceuticals is expanding its operations in Lexington County, and part of that effort is expected to help bring a coronavirus vaccine to the public.

President and CEO Lou Kennedy said the first 5 million COVID-19 vaccines filled at her company will go to South Carolinians.

On Thursday, the Governor’s Office announced new investments the company is making to expand its operations in Lexington County. The state Department of Commerce’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to this project, as well.

“We visited with county, state, and federal government and made our plans known,” Kennedy said. “We want to be a part of the solution to make America healthy again.”

Nephron is investing more than $215 million and set to create close to 400 jobs. The company is known for their generic respiratory medications. Some of those products are being used to treat people with symptoms of COVID-19.

According to Kennedy, the expansion will give the company more warehouse space, a new innovation area, and a new parking lot. She said one of the most important parts to the multi-million dollar expansion is a new vaccine lab.

Company officials are hoping that facility will be used to fill COVID-19 vaccines.

She said they currently are working on updating some of their machines for this purpose and are ordering more. Kennedy said,

“We believe we should have around a 40 to 60 million doses capacity when all our machines are installed and up and running,” Kennedy said. “We’re looking to partner with someone who is going to have the best vaccine out there and be able to fill those.”

Kennedy plans to distribute the first 5 million COVID-19 vaccines filled by Nephron all across the state of South Carolina. She also said they are planning on using plastic vials instead of glass vials due to a potential glass shortage as companies race to mass produce a potential vaccine.

“Producing these vaccines for our constituents and people who live in this state first. That’s huge for us,” Lexington County Council Chairman Scott Whetstone said.

Kennedy said she expects to have everything up and running by early 2021.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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