Vision for Establishing AFC’s East-Coast API Production Hub in Virginia’s Gateway Region


By: Logan Barry

AMPAC Fine Chemicals, or AFC, an SK pharmteco company that has facilities on the West Coast, in Texas and now a major facility on the East Coast located in Virginia’s Gateway Region. As the company continues to expand its Virginia site, they’ll be able to widen their chemistry capabilities to service their regional customers more directly.

“With the facilities we have here, we are also now expanding our analytical capabilities and offer that service, similar to what is offered in El Dorado Hills, California. Then, we’ll have our East Coast and our West Coast services and production wherever it suits. Different parts are interchangeable and will allow us to adapt to current business and project needs, continue growing organically and meeting our customers’ needs simultaneously,” explains Elso DiFranco, Executive Director and General Manager of AFC’s Petersburg, Virginia facility. 

He says that with the production capabilities at AFC’s facility in Petersburg, it can capitalize on economies of scale and with the associated technologies to bring the new products in, but also capitalize on the efficiency of AFC and the innovation of their partners, all while making affordable medicines readily available, locally. 











DiFranco describes two separate needs: He says there is a place for everyone in this process, because:  

  1. Starting materials for this industry are not simple — they are advanced molecular building blocks and require a lot of resources to manufacture — economies of scale are needed in order to capitalize on them and so that’s difficult. 
  2. The level of control with the equipment to produce the APIs is not something readily available in the U.S. 

Click Here To Read The Third Article Of This ‘Advanced Pharma Cluster Sub-Series’ Focused On AFC, Titled: ‘Pharma Cluster To Produce Regional Economic Development And Revitalization’

“This is, from a personal and professional standpoint, an incredible experience for me and the other employees who are working at this facility. This site had over 500 people employed here in its heyday. It dropped down to a fraction of that and now we are rapidly coming back online and bringing that number back into the hundreds — it’s revitalizing the area. We’ve discussed the positive impact on the entire pharmaceutical industry and the drug supply, but now we’re talking about impacting a region … ” 


“ … We all know that when people move to a region to live and they’re doing well, then all kinds of supporting businesses benefit from it. For example, in order to meet our timelines to do this reactivation, we’re employing a great number of local engineering and contracting firms, so there are a lot of other behind-the-scenes local people who are benefiting from this as well, DiFranco concluded.  

About VGR’s Advanced Pharma Campaign: 

Virginia’s Gateway Region is well on its way to becoming a transformational Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing cluster. In a post-COVID-19 world, the importance of drugs being made here in the U.S. has never been more relevant. Thanks to a unique public–private partnership between industry, academia and government, advanced manufacturing of essential pharmaceutical ingredients in the region will help ensure reliable access to affordable and quality medicines that will benefit citizens for years to come. To learn more, visit VGR’s Advanced Pharma campaign landing page, at: 

About Virginia’s Gateway Region EDO:

VGR is the regional economic development organization that markets the independent localities within the Tri-Cities of Petersburg, Hopewell and Colonial Heights, in addition to the outer-region counties of Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex as well as the incorporated towns within them. VGR focuses its efforts on new and existing business investment and job creation with the goal of funding the region for economic prosperity.

About AFC:

AMPAC Fine Chemicals — an SK pharmteco company — is a U.S.-based, custom manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients, known as APIs, and registered intermediates. AFC solves problems through technology and innovation to reliably deliver quality products that save and improve lives.

About Elso DiFranco:

Mr. DiFranco has a PhD in Chemistry and over 25 years of experience in the pharma industry. He is an Executive Director and General Manager at AMPAC Fine Chemicals Virginia, with responsibility for operations at the site.

VGR — Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing


This concludes Part Four of a four-part story about AMPAC Fine Chemicals and the role the company has in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster currently being developed in the City of Petersburg, Va. Stay tuned for the next article the VGR’s Advanced Pharma Blog Series, all about Civica Rx, coming soon on