Fayetteville-based startup OurPharma, the first manufacturer of generic medications in Arkansas, announced Monday its plans to invest approximately $31.3 million in a Fayetteville facility that will develop lower-cost alternatives to generic drugs.
The company said it will hire 10 to 12 employees at first but expand to more than 100 employees within a seven-year period.
Construction will begin this winter on the 14.9-acre site in the Fayetteville Commercial Park, and OurPharma is planning four phases of development over 10 years.
The facility was designed by Cromwell Architects Engineers, with Clark Contractors serving as the general contractor.
The first phase will focus on compounded medications necessary for hospitals and clinics. Production requires careful adherence to state and FDA guidelines.
During the next two phases, to be completed within three years, the company plans to expand into the generic drug market by focusing on products such as insulin.
OurPharma has qualified for two state incentives, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission: Create Rebate, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs at the plant; and Tax Back, which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project.
Also, the city sold the land at a discount, according to Fayetteville Chamber President and CEO Steve Clark. Though it was bid out, the land normally would have sold for $20,000 an acre. OurPharma paid $15,000 per acre, he said.
Clark also said the city expediated administrative approvals to help the company with this project.
OurPharma CEO Dr. Peter Kohler said in a news release, “We want to fill a great need for generic drugs locally, in the region, and nationally by starting with compounding, and then progressing into the manufacturing of generic pills, tablets and capsules. Our goals are to be a major generic drug company over the next decade and to provide affordable and much needed medications to the patients.”
Kohler recently retired as vice chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Northwest Campus.
The company said it would like to collaborate with bioengineering departments, like the one at the University of Arkansas, to develop high quality, cost-effective alternatives to devices such as the EpiPen.
OurPharma also hopes to set up elective training opportunities for graduate level students in the UA College of Business and the College of Engineering.