Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc., a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company based in British Columbia, Canada, plans to open its U.S. commercial operations in Rockville, Maryland. The project will bring up to 500 new jobs to the region over the next seven years.
The company, which is focused on developing and commercializing innovative products to treat debilitating diseases, is opening the new facility as it prepares for the potential approval and launch of voclosporin, an investigational drug to treat lupus nephritis, in 2021.
In addition to treating lupus nephritis, Aurinia is also testing voclosporin for the treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and dry eye syndrome. The company’s head office is in Victoria, British Columbia and focuses its development efforts globally.
Aurinia’s Rockville site at 77 Upper Rock Circle will initially occupy 30,000 square feet, with potential expansions to 120,000 square feet. The company plans to hire up to 100 employees in the first year and up to 500 employees as it expands operations.
“We are thrilled to announce the opening of our U.S. commercial offices in Rockville, Maryland, as we continue to advance the development of voclosporin, which has the potential to become the first-ever approved treatment for patients suffering from lupus nephritis. This important milestone follows the recent build-out of our commercial leadership team, as we move swiftly yet responsibly toward commercial readiness,” said Peter Greenleaf, president and CEO of Aurinia.
“The state’s commitment to attracting and supporting leading innovators played a key role in our decision to establish Aurinia’s U.S. presence here. We look forward to joining and contributing to the ecosystem of top-notch biopharmaceutical companies and research institutions in Montgomery County, while we build a global company,” he added.
To assist with project costs, the Maryland Department of Commerce has approved a $2 million conditional loan through Advantage Maryland, formerly the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund. Additionally, Montgomery County has approved a conditional grant of $350,000 per phase of the project, with the City of Rockville contributing $25,000 for each phase. The company is also eligible for Maryland’s Job Creation Tax Credit.
“We are excited to welcome Aurinia and all of the new life sciences jobs the company will bring to Maryland,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our highly-educated workforce, proximity to many key federal agencies and labs, and critical mass of life sciences companies and resources makes our state the ideal place for a growing company like Aurinia to continue its life-saving work developing transformative therapies.”
“We take pride in the fact that another innovative international company has recognized that Montgomery County is a perfect location for its U.S. operations,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our highly educated, multilingual population provides companies with their most important ingredient: talent.”
“Attracting a global company like Aurinia, which is at the forefront of treating patients with high unmet medical needs, adds another world-class company to Maryland’s outstanding life sciences community,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “Together with our partners in Montgomery County, we look forward to working with Aurinia to ensure they continue to grow and thrive here in our state.”