Like the Greek mythological adventurers its name is based on, Argonaut Manufacturing Services has procured a golden fleece investment to expand its facilities and capabilities.
Last month, the Carlsbad-based contract manufacturing organization (CMO), which serves the life sciences, molecular diagnostics and biopharma industries, announced a capital investment led by majority shareholder Telegraph Hill Partners.
“This is the largest expansion and investment in the history of the company,” said Chris Duffy, senior vice president and general manager of Argonaut’s drug product business unit.
In addition to increased capacity and scale, the new capabilities at the Argonaut facility will include complex formulation of parenteral drug products and a new state of the art isolator-based filling line capable of filling vials, syringes, and cartridges for clinical and commercial drug products. Argonaut will also make investments in support of their molecular diagnostics business supporting life science clients.
Jon Lenihan, senior vice president of commercial at Argonaut, added that the details of funding structure are still being finalized with the company’s partners, but the investment round will include the capital needed to purchase, install and validate the new filling line and associated infrastructure needed to support GMP operations.
“Once complete, this expansion will bring the total of Argonaut’s capital investment in the Carlsbad area to over $70 million in manufacturing, infrastructure, and technology,” he said.
Argonaut CEO Wayne Woodard commented on the investment by thanking the company’s investors and its lender, MidCap Financial, “for their continued support.”
“Their shared vision of the future and their willingness to partner with the management team has been essential to the continued success of Argonaut,” he said.
The expansion in facilities and capabilities is just the latest part of a “strategic decision” Argonaut made in 2018 to pursue a commitment to the drug product manufacturing market with its initial filling line, Duffy said.
“This was well-received by the market, and we now see the need to expand manufacturing capacity to include prefilled syringes and cartridges to support our late-phase and commercial clients,” he added.
Other significant investments Argonaut has made since its strategic commitment to drug manufacturing includes the acquisition of San Diego-based Lyogen, which added additional lyophilization capabilities and unique enabling technologies for the diagnostics market.
Argonaut also expanded its lyophilization development and GMP manufacturing capabilities at the company’s 35,000-square-foot. headquarters in Carlsbad and added a 20,000-square-foot GMP warehouse, also located in Carlsbad.
In total, Argonaut currently operates four facilities in Carlsbad – the facility to house the new line will be the company’s fifth.
“We expect to add approximately 25,000 square feet to our existing footprint, through either the lease or acquisition of a building in or around Carlsbad,” Lenihan said. “We predict that we will secure the real estate for this expansion later in 2023, and this will ensure we have adequate time for the necessary construction activities.”
Argonaut’s added capacity for vials and new capabilities to support syringe and cartridge filling will more than double the capacity of the existing filling line and will utilize state of the art isolator-based technology and robotic handling of components.
The expansion will also include space for manufacturing as well as supporting activities such as labs, utilities, office, material storage and logistics. The expansion project is expected to be completed by 2025.
When the new project is complete, the added capabilities will help Argonaut serve its clients in over 50 countries across North America, Europe and Asia.
“At Argonaut, we believe strongly in developing an ecosystem of trusted partners that innovators can leverage to bring their products safely and successfully to market,” Lenihan said, adding that while the company does not typically share details of its partners and the drugs they produce, it is “extremely proud” of the public partnership it has with the n-Lorem Foundation and the work developing treatments for patients with rare genetic diseases.
Argonaut Manufacturing Services
CEO: Wayne Woodard
Business: Contract manufacturing organization for life sciences, molecular diagnostics and biopharma industries.
Notable: Argonaut is the industry leader in lyophilization services.