Gov. Lee, Rep. Harshbarger applaud reopening of Bristol antibiotic factory

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BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – A year after bankruptcy, USAntibiotics is back in business. Monday, elected officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to show their support for a move they said would increase national security.

Gov. Bill Lee and Rep. Diana Harshbarger spoke at the ceremony outside the 360,000 square foot facility.

After filing bankruptcy in 2020, the building was listed as a critical infrastructure facility by the Department of Homeland Security. The United States’ sole producer of amoxicillin was almost lost, until Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare purchased the facility.

It is the first time in company history that USAntibiotics is owned by an American company.

“Opportunity comes when the private sector is willing to invest and put capital at risk because of what they believe is a valuable mission,” Gov. Lee said.

The facility is capable of producing 300 million capsules and 2 billion tablets of antibiotics every year. That would cover the entire U.S. demand for those products.

The facility is also able to secure a five-year stockpile of all the amoxicillin needed in the US.

Lee, Harshbarger and Jackson Healthcare CEO Shane Jackson said the reopening was a matter of national security.

“What we make in this building will literally save millions of lives,” Jackson said. “But it will not happen unless as Americans we decide to take back control of our national and individual security.”

Jackson officials claimed foreign nations produced more than 90 percent of the U.S. drug and pharmaceutical ingredient supply, taking aim at China specifically.

Rep. Harshbarger, a licensed pharmacist, agreed that America ought to have greater control of its medical supply.

“We have to take back what has been taken from us,” Harshbarger said. “You go to Congress and say 90 plus percent of our ingredients come from adversarial countries. That should never be that way.”

Gov. Lee said the reopening represented steps toward U.S. pharmaceutical independence.

“I gratefully appreciate your understanding of just how important it is that we produce life-saving drugs in America for Americans,” Lee said to Jackson officials. “Your investment will allow this country to turn a corner.”

Lee also thanked several USAntibiotics workers, who worked for free last year while the facility was bankrupt. They worked to maintain critical production. Many of those workers are staying with the new ownership.

The reopened facility will create 63 new jobs, some of which are still being filled.

Jackson Healthcare officials said the facility will begin production “in the coming months.”

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