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South Korean insulin manufacturer to build facility in Morgantown

A lower-cost insulin manufacturer has taken the next step toward establishing a location in West Virginia.

UNDBIO, a South Korean company, has secured a lease with West Virginia University to build an insulin manufacturing facility in Morgantown.

The company anticipates creating 200 jobs within the first three years while investing $100,000,000 in phase one of the project.

Gov. Jim Justice celebrated the lease agreement and praised the development during a briefing at the state Capitol.

“The Morgantown area has a strong manufacturing history and I am proud that UNDBIO will join our growing list of successful, world-leading manufacturing companies who’ve chosen the Mountain State,” Justice said.

The company has plans to build the manufacturing facility in the West Virginia University Research Park. Company leaders have said the project is valued at about $100 million and is expected to employ as many as 1,200 when up and running.

Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom applauded the announcement.

“If you remember two years ago when everyone said, ‘Oh, Mylan is going under? That’s the end for the city of Morgantown,’” he said. “I said at the time that we would regroup and out of that fire we would be the phoenix rising. I believe what you’re seeing now, with this plant and with Mountaintop Bottling Company, we’re growing again and coming back even stronger.

“As a county commission, we’re thrilled to have UNDBIO in the community,” he said. “We’ve been striving to attract jobs in the medical and sciences arena and we feel very fortuante to have UNDBIO invest, right now, $100 million in our county and the city of Morgantown. We’re going to provide ongoing support for them as we do for all our businesses.”

The company plans to partner with West Virginia University on other research projects as well.

“It’s really a firming up of the commitment. West Virginia’s made some financial commitments, and UNDBIO has made substantial commitments to the Morgantown area,” state Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

He added, “It’s really a revitalization of the pharmaceutical industry in the Morgantown area, and it’s great for West Virginia — and it’s great for Morgantown in particular.”

UNDBIO has been developing a proprietary manufacturing method aimed at lowering the cost of insulin.

In phase one, the facility will work to secure Food and Drug Administration approval for the product. After securing FDA approval, UNDBIO plans to expand, resulting in additional jobs.

Carmichael acknowledged the FDA approval could still take time, but he drew confidence from the insulin’s acceptance and production in other countries.

“Ground will be broken on the building this fall, and FDA approval will not be forthcoming for probably a year and a half or two – and you can’t control the speed at which the FDA approves.

But, Carmichael added, “the nice thing that gives everyone confidence about it is that it’s already being utilized and manufactured in other countries throughout the world. So the fact that it needs American FDA approval is significant and we’ll undergo that process, but the project is moving forward.”

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports more than 34 million people in the country have diabetes and one in 10 West Virginians are affected by the disease. The data also shows nearly 20-percent of people with diabetes skipped, delayed or rationed insulin due to cost.

“The mission of UNDBIO is to develop and produce state-of-the-art insulin in West Virginia,” UNDBIO Chairman Caleb Jun said.

“Our products will save human lives and improve the quality of life for those afflicted with diabetes. We are excited to see West Virginia become a mecca for manufacturing highly advanced insulin to treat diabetic patients around the world.”

Bloom said he was impressed and looks forward to working with the company.

“It was great to see and meet the individuals,” he said. “It was great to listen to Chairman Caleb Jun state why he came to West Virginia, and he ended it by saying, ‘We’re going to be Mountaineers.’ You can just tell his heart’s in it. He’s a very caring, passionate, religious person who feels that the people of West Virgina will be perfect for his business.”

BEN CONLEY contributed to this report,