Athenex will begin work on a 320,000-square-foot facility in Dunkirk this month. <span class='image-credits'></span>

Athenex begins work on new manufacturing plant in Dunkirk

Athenex, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Buffalo, has officially found a home for its new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

The company, which was started out of a laboratory at the University at Buffalo in 2003, recently announced it will begin work on a 320,000-square-foot facility this month located in the Town of Dunkirk.

“Our Dunkirk site is the perfect fit for our project,” said Teresa Bair, vice president of legal affairs & corporate development for Athenex. “The site is easily accessible, has the potential for expansion, has access to sufficient energy and water supplies, and is close to the thruway, which will be convenient for our transport activities.”

The facility has been in the works for several years, with Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing the original plans in February of 2016, and is expected to have its construction completed in early 2019.

Athenex, which tabs itself as “a leader in the discovery and development of next generation drugs for the treatment of cancer,” has been on the stock market since last June, raising $66 million in its initial public offering on the Nasdaq.

The company, formerly named Kinex Pharmaceuticals, has been in operation for nearly 15 years, where it was run, in part, by former University at Buffalo chemistryp David Hangauer.

Hangauer, who retired from Athenex in 2016, spent much of his career focusing on developing protein-based kinase inhibitors, which are believed to restrict the growth of certain cancers, according to the Athenex website.

He, along with former CEO Allen Barnett, and current CEO Johnson Lau, have done extensive research and clinical trials on a chemotherapy treatment in pill form that has the potential to reduce pain and have patients spend less time at the hospital. According to The Buffalo News, the pill is a combination of a popular chemotherapy drug Oraxol and a molecule created by Athenex that allows the drug to be effective in the pill form.

The company has stated that it will invest $1.5 billion of its own money into the new manufacturing facility, with New York state also giving $225 million to the project.

The company, which has its home office in Buffalo, has nearly 500 employees worldwide, with other offices throughout the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. The new facility is estimated to have nearly 450 employees once it is fully operational, with the majority of those employees being from the area.     

“We look forward to attracting talent from across Western New York, including mechanical and electrical engineers, mechanics, operators, warehouse workers, plant service folks, and a broad spectrum of other positions we’ll need to keep the facility running smoothly,” Bair added.

Read more articles by Sean Brock.

A native of Western New York, Brock has worked in the field of writing and public relations over the past several years, while also gaining a master’s degree from Canisius College this May. He has worked for several universities and professional sports teams in a public relations capacity during that time, and has always kept a love for writing. In his free time Brock enjoys hiking, history, reading and watching as many baseball and football games as he can.   
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