Nephron employees achieve Lean Six Sigma green belt certification see more
If there were ever a time for improved efficiency to help a fast-moving company, it would be now for Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp.
With the West Columbia-based manufacturer of sterile respiratory medication churning out product at a record pace during the COVID-19 health crisis, owner and CEO Lou Kennedy is in search of every competitive advantage available.
“In spite of my Southern accent, I do move like a New Yorker, and this company goes at that pace,” she said. “It’s a testament to the team here that everybody’s running on high-test, premium unleaded, and keeping up.”
The most recent example came when nine Nephron employees achieved Lean Six Sigma green belt certification after completing courses at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. Six Sigma or lean manufacturing, pioneered by the likes of Henry Ford and famously implemented by Toyota in the years following World War II, is a systematic method aimed at reducing waste and variation to improve production quality and efficiency.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation expanding operations again, adding 380 jobs, $215.8 million investment$215.8 million investment will create 380 new jobs in Lexington County, SC see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nephron), a global leader in the production of generic respiratory medications and blow-fill-seal contract manufacturing, today announced plans to expand operations in Lexington County. The company's $215.8 million investment will create 380 new jobs.
A West Columbia, S.C.-based company, Nephron develops and produces safe, affordable generic inhalation solutions and suspension products, including those used to treat severe respiratory distress symptoms associated with COVID-19.
The company also operates an industry-leading 503B Outsourcing Facility division which produces pre-filled sterile syringes and IV bags for hospitals across America, in an effort to alleviate drug shortage needs. Nephron fills the needs of patients and health care professionals as they arise nationwide, and recently opened a CLIA-certified diagnostics lab.
Headquartered at 4500 12th Street in West Columbia, Nephron’s expansion will add new offices, a new warehouse and production space at its campus in Saxe-Gotha Industrial Park.
The expansion is expected to be completed by Q1 of 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Nephron team should visit https://www.nephronpharm.com/careers.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project.
“The Nephron family is extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to grow in South Carolina. Thanks to our partnerships with state and local officials, and the trust they have placed in us, we have been able to provide life-saving medications to patients around the world and establish ourselves as the global leader in what we do. We are proud of these achievements and more, and we know our best days are ahead of us. That is what makes this latest announcement so special.” -Nephron Owner & CEO Lou Kennedy
“We are proud to have Nephron Pharmaceuticals in South Carolina. Since coming here they have become an integral part of the community, and recently have been vital in the fight against COVID-19. This new investment of more than $215 million creating 380 new jobs in Lexington County is a great win for Team South Carolina.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“Nephron is a longtime steward of South Carolina’s business community, and we congratulate them on their continued growth within our state. Today’s announcement is yet another big win for South Carolina, our people and our burgeoning life sciences sector.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“We are excited to continue to partner with such an innovative and forward-thinking company like Nephron Pharmaceuticals. We know that Lexington County is a great place to establish and grow a business, and Nephron’s continued success is a testament to good government-business relations.” -Lexington County Council Chairman Scott Whetstone
FIVE FAST FACTS
• Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nephron) is expanding operations in Lexington County.
• The $215.8 million investment is projected to create 380 new jobs.
• Nephron is a global leader in the production of generic respiratory medications and blow-fill-seal contract manufacturing.
• Headquartered at 4500 12th Street in West Columbia, S.C.
• Individuals interested in joining the Nephron team should visit https://www.nephronpharm.com/careers.
Nephron seeks to stem coronavirus concerns with expanded offerings see more
In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, West Columbia-based Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. has asked the Food and Drug Administration for permission to add up to six filling lines to ramp up its production of sterile respiratory medication.
Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy said she spoke with the FDA on Tuesday morning and is “waiting to hear back.” Kennedy also said Nephron will begin making its own hand sanitizer as early as this week.
Nephron, which CEO Lou Kennedy said is one of two companies in the U.S. that produce 98% of the nebulizer solutions used in hospitals or sold in retail outlets, relocated to South Carolina from Florida in 2014.
“We didn’t move all the equipment right away,” moving an additional six filling lines to South Carolina in 2019, Kennedy said. She said she had been in discussion with the FDA for permission to bring those machines online. A meeting had been scheduled for March 22 before she made another request Tuesday.
West Columbia-based Nephron has asked for FDA approval to add up to six filling lines for its respiratory medication manufacturing. CEO Lou Kennedy also announced the company will begin making hand sanitizer this week. (Photo/File)
The eight filling lines currently being used in production of the inhalation solutions Nephron makes typically produce 80 to 85 million doses a month “on a regular basis” and are capable of making up to 110 million monthly doses, Kennedy said.
“As of yesterday, we had orders on the books for 87 million, so already a month’s worth,” Kennedy said. “For the last two weeks, those orders have been running about 48% higher than we would normally see. … We do have backstock that we’ve built up in inventory, (but) that won’t last forever.”
To maximize Nephron’s 24-hour, seven-day-a-week production schedule, Kennedy said the company has begun providing in-house child care. Children are provided food, and already stringent cleaning efforts have been “tripled,” Kennedy said. She said the same methods used to maintain sterile facility conditions, including the use of a fogging machine and wiping down surfaces with isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, are being deployed in the day care.
“We’re really good at cleaning here, because we only make sterile drugs,” Kennedy said. “I’m very confident about making a clean environment for these children.”
During a conference call Tuesday, Kennedy also said Nephron has received FDA approval to begin making its own hand sanitizer and ordered supplies to do so on Monday.
“We will take care of the Nephron family first, and after we do that, we will look at should we go through churches, the Salvation Army, how can we help the community, and/or commercial production,” she said. “I’ve had at least six requests from various sales reps across the country. Hospitals are asking can we make that hand sanitizer for them.”
The plan is to produce 50-liter batches of a strong, FDA recipe without fragrances or other diluting agents, Kennedy said. She said she will gift what is left over from the first batch, after Nephron employees and their families have been served, to local charities.
Kennedy said as early as December, Nephron began taking stock of things such as the resin used to make vials of its liquid medication as well as its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients. “We are fortunate that we have more than a year’s supply of that (API) on hand,” she said.
Nephron makes bronchodilators including albuterol used to treat respiratory illnesses such as bronchial asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and croup. It also manufactures Pocket Nebs, which are portable, battery-charged nebulizers.
Novel coronavirus can cause cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Severe infections can lead to complications including pneumonia, according to the World Health Organization.
Increased product demand during cold, cough and allergy season, as well as past experience with respiratory illnesses including SARS and H1N1, have made the company ever-vigilant, Kennedy said.
“We make sure to be very rock-solid in our preparation to accommodate the needs of America,” she said.
Kennedy said hiring and training has already begun in anticipation of FDA approval of the additional filling lines.
“We have the people to be able to ramp that up right now,” she said. “ … If we don’t get our hands wrapped around this quickly, meaning we squelch the spread, get control of the spread, it’s going to be a long, hard road. But it’s easily solved if the FDA allows me to ramp up the five or six other lines that I brought here from Florida.”