UPDATE (8/11/21 5:10 p.m.)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Since the December 2020 announcement that new company Viatris was planning to shut down the Mylan Pharmaceuticals facility in Monongalia County, eliminating several thousand jobs, there has been much talk about what would become of the property. With a news release, Wednesday, from Viatris, the facility’s future is becoming somewhat clearer.
The announcement said that Viatris has entered discussions with West Virginia University to transfer the facility to WVU or one of its affiliates.
Should WVU take over the facility, it will then work with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development to find companies to use the space, Gov. Jim Justice said.
The state will still try to find job opportunities, for now, laid-off employees, Justice also said.
WVU President Dr. Gordon Gee said talks with Viatris have only been underway for a “very short period of time”, but that he’s thrilled to be having discussions with the company.
It is an opportunity for us, to take a great, facility and be able to work more closely with all of the other elements of the university — in our research and leading toward new programs and other kinds of activities that could really make a real difference. And the other thing is for West Virginia as a whole, it’s great to keep this facility here and intact and allows us a real opening to attract business and industry here. And that’s 1.1 million square feet of great facility that I think can be used wisely by the university, by other entities that can come and be part of what could be a major research enterprise.Dr. E Gordon Gee – WVU President
Gee said the acquisition of the manufacturing facility would be a “major asset” to the WVU portfolio. That is why the university is very excited about talks with Viatris.
That and the fact that Viatris did not shutter its research facility in Monongalia County, so there would be an opportunity for WVU to work closely with the research team if it were to acquire the manufacturing plant.
“Truthfully, we want to make sure that Viatirs knows that we are a great partner because they have a major research facility here,” Gee said. “We want it to be here and to grow.”
Below is the full statement from Viatris:
As we stated in December, the decision to cease operations at our Chestnut Ridge oral solid dose manufacturing facility in Morgantown, WV on July 31, 2021, as part of a global, multi-site restructuring initiative was one that we did not take lightly, and in no way reflects upon the company’s appreciation for the commitment, work ethic and valuable contributions of our employees.
We have worked diligently to try to identify viable alternatives for the site outside of the company’s network. We have communicated with all potential prospects identified by us or others and have maintained open channels of communication with West Virginia public officials, all in an effort to obtain a formal proposal of interest to maintain the site as a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. However, we believe that the same industry and market dynamics that prompted our decision have resulted in no such viable proposals being received to date.
While Viatris remains open to any new expressions of interest, we are committed to continuing to work with state officials and others to secure the next best possible future outcome for the Chestnut Ridge site. To that end, the company has commenced discussions to align on a memorandum of understanding with West Virginia University (WVU) and its affiliates to pursue the potential transfer and ownership of the site to WVU or one of its associated entities.
Viatris Executive Chairman Robert J. Coury commented, “Given the present landscape, when thinking about responsible new stewards for the site, as well as its strategic location, future potential uses, and the possibility for job creation opportunities in the short, medium and long term for Morgantown and its surrounding areas, we determined that pursuing formal discussions at this time with WVU and its affiliates is the absolute right next step to consider. This is especially true given that we remain and intend to continue to remain a significant employer in Morgantown, including at our world-class global center of excellence for Research and Development.”
Coury continued, “I also know and have witnessed firsthand the love and the respect that Mike Puskar, Mylan’s co-founder, had for West Virginia University and the tremendous support that he, Mylan and its employees have provided to this critical and highly regarded institution throughout the years. With that in mind, it only seems fitting that we pursue discussions with the University and its affiliates as we continue to seek the best possible solution for the site outside of the Viatris network that is in the best interest of the community and all of its stakeholders.”
Members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation issued statements on the announcement:
“I am thankful to President Gordon Gee, West Virginia University, and Viatris Executive Chairman Robert Coury for working diligently over the last several months to form this significant partnership that will lead to a bright new future for this impressive facility, the region and our entire state. I believe in my heart nobody would more proud and delighted than Mike Puskar to see his beloved Mylan family and property join forces with the WVU family he cherished so deeply. West Virginia University has a proven track record of success when it comes to identifying economic development partnerships that reap benefits for the entire Mountain State. I am confident this partnership will be no different and am hopeful WVU will take this opportunity of a lifetime to create meaningful jobs for this skilled workforce. I am eager to support these efforts in every way I can.”U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV
“This is a positive step forward. West Virginia University is a world class institution, our state’s largest employer, and can have a profound influence on our state’s economy,” said McKinley. “We will continue to work with all parties to ensure a positive outcome. I look forward to the next phase of discussions and opportunities.”U.S. Representative David McKinley, R-1st District
WVU’s President, Gee, said that he is grateful for West Virginia’s congressional delegation because it has worked so hard to find solutions for the Viatris plant and all of its employees.
“They all have been very helpful in thinking about how this facility can become value-added to West Virginia again,” Gee said. “And for Mr. Puskar, whom I knew during my first tenure, I think that he would be very happy that this facility, potentially, will become part of the university portfolio.”