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Athenex enters into an agreement for ImmunityBio to takeover Dunkirk facility

“This is big news"
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Posted at 2:13 PM, Jan 12, 2022

DUNKIRK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Athenex, a global biopharmaceutical company, has entered into an agreement for ImmunityBio to assume its lease of a manufacturing facility in Dunkirk and certain related assets.

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Outside Athenex in Dunkirk, NY.

The agreement is for $38 million and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, according to a release.

ImmunityBio, a late-clinical-stage immunotherapy company, "will assume all capital expenditure and hiring obligations of Athenex pursuant to its agreements with New York State," once the transaction closes. The previous obligations that ImmunityBio is now taking on include the creation of 450 direct jobs and a $1.52 billion investment over ten years.

According to a release, ImmunityBio believes that the acquisition of the facility will fast track the company’s timeline for building production capacity at a significant scale. It plans to further invest in the facility and anticipates it will begin producing COVID vaccine drug substance in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The California- based company say sit plans to manufacture billion doses of COVID vaccines.

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Outside the Athenex building in Dunkirk.

As part of the former Buffalo Billion investment, New York State originally entered into an agreement with Athenex, a global pharmaceutical company to manufacture cancer drugs.

We are pleased to expand our global manufacturing capacity of biologics and vaccines with the addition of this state-of-the-art facility to our ecosystem of manufacturing facilities. The Dunkirk facility will establish a global pandemic preparedness manufacturing plant for novel vaccines and immunotherapy products. We are looking forward to working with the Dunkirk community and State of New York to make western New York a global biotech manufacturing center.
- Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., Founder, Executive Chairman and Global Chief Scientific and Medical Officer at ImmunityBio

Athenex will continue to operate its existing Athenex Pharmaceutical Division (APD) and Athenex Pharmaceutical Solutions (APS) divisions. This agreement does not impact Athenex's corporate headquarters in Buffalo.

The companies have also entered into a preliminary agreement to allow APS the ability to manufacture its 503B products at the facility.

We are pleased to announce this agreement regarding the Dunkirk facility, which we believe will allow us to execute on our strategy and create value for the specialty pharmacy division of Athenex. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Dunkirk team as a contract manufacturing partner. We believe this transaction is aligned with Athenex’s commitment to unlock value for its shareholders and will put Athenex in a better financial position to deliver on its goals in the upcoming year.
- Jeffrey Yordon, Chief Operating Officer, President Athenex Pharmaceutical Division
We are thrilled ImmunityBio has selected Dunkirk for its largest manufacturing facility. This will create many local jobs and boost the economy at a regional level. We have a trained workforce here, along with access to land, air and water transport on Lake Erie. We are eagerly anticipating the opening of the plant and for Dunkirk to help ImmunityBio deliver its life-saving therapies and vaccines to people all over the world.
- Wilfred Rosas, Mayor of the City of Dunkirk

The founder and leader of immunity bio says his company makes bio-logical materials that activate the immune system and his company will be making second generation COVID vaccines in Dunkirk, which still needs FDA approval.

“It’s very hopeful not only for the future variants, but the current variants. Our T-cell vaccine has been shown now to actually kill the infected cell of the Delta, the Beta, the Alpha — we will be testing it directly for Omicron, but hopeful that it also kill/neutralize against the Omicron,” explained Dr. Soon-Shiong.

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Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder, executive chairman and global chief scientific and medical officer at ImmunityBio, lower left, in Zoom interview.

“This beautiful plant, that the state has built over course of the last six years, lends itself just perfectly to the ability to create a state-of-the-art, biological manufacturing facility from the beginning all the way to the finished product,” remarked Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder, executive chairman and global chief scientific and medical officer at ImmunityBio.

“This will allow you to manufacture COVID vaccines right here in the Western New York community, correct?” Buckley asked.

“That's correct, so we have developed a second generation RNA vaccine, called the self amplifying RNA vaccine and also developed a nano particle lipid that carries this RNA,” replied Dr. Soon-Shiong.

“This is big news — it's going to have a huge regional impact,” remarked Wilford Rosas, mayor, City of Dunkirk.

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Wilford Rosas, mayor, City of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk Mayor Rosas tells me this will provide an economic shot in the arm for the community.

“We anticipate that this opportunity will bring in other folks from other areas, so there's going to be other opportunities again for development,”

Mayor Rosas says he expects the company to hire both locally and nationally, anticipating it might mean the need for more housing in his city region.

“It would be great, not just for our community — this is a global company that is going to be doing this for people all over the world,” replied Rosas.

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Work conducted by ImmunityBio.

Athenex will remain at the facility, manufacturing its product.

The company expects to begin manufacturing the COVID vaccines by the end of this year.