An Alaska-based home healthcare firm is planning to build the state's first
generic drug manufacturing plant.
"No one has tapped this market, which really amazes me," Jerry Tanner, chief executive and founder of Immediate Care, told FDANews. "There's a need and there's a niche for it." The new plant, which will be sited in Anchorage, is expected to start operating in 2007, Tanner said. Once the plant is fully operational, Tanner said he expects to gross $100 million to $150 million annually.
In its first phase, the plant will produce seven lines of maintenance drugs for long-term conditions such as diabetes. During its second phase, the facility will manufacture 15 lines of drugs, including generic versions of Class II drugs such as OxyContin (oxycodone HCl) and Demerol (meperidine HCl). Tanner is working with the Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on his plans to produce generic Class II drugs, which are under strict regulation as controlled substances.
"What I'm hoping for is to show that this is profitable and successful and get other [drug companies] interested in coming up here. I believe in competition, competition is very healthy and very good," Tanner said.
Alaska's changing demographic profile means it's a good time for drug manufacturers to establish a presence in the state, Tanner said. Years ago, a lot of seniors would leave the state when they retired. "Well, we're not seeing that now. They're staying," he said. While healthcare costs are rising across the U.S., Alaska's healthcare costs are exacerbated by the fact that much of what Alaskans consume is flown or barged in.
The drug plant could therefore lower drug costs in Alaska, where the average prescription costs $66.89, the highest in the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org.