Phlow kicks off drug ingredient production in Petersburg

A local pharma company and player in a regional effort to build a pharmaceutical hub in Central Virginia has started manufacturing operations.

Richmond-based Phlow Corp. recently began manufacturing ingredients used in medicines at a facility at 2818 N. Normandy Drive in Petersburg, according to Robby Demeria, the company’s chief corporate affairs officer.

The 19,200-square-foot facility is able to produce 250 to 500 kilograms of material annually. It began operations late last year and is the first of two manufacturing plants that Phlow has planned at the Petersburg site.

It also marks the initiation of in-house manufacturing capabilities for Phlow, which was founded four years ago.

Still to come is an 18,000-square-foot facility able to produce on a metric-ton scale. It is anticipated to be able to produce 40 to 60 metric tons of pharmaceutical material annually and is slated to become fully operational later this year.

Phlow declined to share the cost of construction for its Petersburg facilities, which were financed with federal funding.

New Jersey-based CE&IC is handling the design and engineering for the factories, and Gilbane is the general contractor. JLL is representing Phlow in overseeing the design and engineering.

Phlow’s facilities are situated on property the company leases from AMPAC Fine Chemicals, a pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturer with a factory on Normandy Drive. Phlow has a 99-year lease on the land, according to a company spokesman.

Phlow has 25 to 30 employees based in Petersburg, and Demeria said he expects that the company would employ 40 to 50 people there once the facilities are fully operational. The existing factory, currently producing on a kilogram scale, is able to scale up to production of metric tons of material.

The company is making active pharmaceutical ingredients, called API, which are the ingredients that provide medications’ health benefits. Phlow is selling the API to other companies, which then use the materials to produce generic medicines that are in short supply.

In a recent interview with BizSense, Demeria said the company intends to expand its capabilities to include sterilization and packaging of finished medicine (a process known as fill finish) as well as production of key starting materials, which are the raw building blocks of API.

“We are definitely focused on the end-to-end manufacturing of essential medicines. Right now we have a lot of partnerships, fill-finish partners,” Demeria said. “We’re focused on, at least in the short term, getting a fully domestic manufactured drug product.”

Phlow’s Richmond headquarters is at 424 Hull St. in Manchester. The company also has a research laboratory at 506 E. Jackson St. Demeria said the company has 50 employees based in the Richmond facilities.

The company headquarters was formerly in the Riverside on the James building at 1001 Haxall Point in Shockoe Slip. It relocated to its new offices on Hull Street in December.

Phlow was founded in 2020 by Eric Edwards and Frank Gupton with the intention of establishing a secure domestic supply of medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients through new technology and American-based manufacturing. The company is part of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine, a regional effort to create a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Petersburg and Richmond.

Other participants in the alliance include Activation Capital, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, VCU Engineering, Virginia State University, Civica, AMPAC, the cities of Petersburg and Richmond, and Walmart.

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