Amgen Inc., Rhode Island’s largest biotechnology employer, is in a race to develop a new anti-cholesterol drug. And as a story on Page 18 explains, the state has more than a rooting interest.
In 2005, the company had 1,300 employees and was the state’s fifth-largest manufacturer. By 2010 the company was down to 900 workers at its West Greenwich plant.
In 2011, however, the company began reinvesting in the West Greenwich plant, to the tune of $70 million for “pipeline readiness” for a new drug, AMG 145, and other projects, according to a company spokeswoman. And the local employment numbers have started climbing again, to 950 last year.
The new drug is in clinical trials, as Amgen competes with other companies looking to develop their own versions of the drug. While Amgen isn’t ready to commit to an expansion here, Richard Horan, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund, is among the observers who expect local job growth if Amgen’s drug wins federal approval.
And that prospect, along with the company’s ongoing investment in Rhode Island, makes this a race state economic-development leaders should be watching closely. •