Covance, the international drug-development services company, will officially open its new $150 million drug testing laboratory Thursday in Chandler.
The official grand opening's ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. at the lab complex located at the southwest corner of Ryan and Gilbert roads.
Among attendees are expected to be Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn and Covance Chief Executive Joseph Herring.
The lab will test the toxicity of new compounds developed by major pharmaceutical firms before they are tested in humans. The tests are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as part of the process of developing new medicines.
The 280,000-square-foot Chandler complex will primarily serve Covance customers located in biotech centers on the West Coast.
Because Princeton, N.J.-based Covance uses animal testing in its labs, the facility has drawn criticism from animal-rights activists. Proponents of the project cite its estimated $1.8 million annual boost to the local economy and the role it will play in developing drugs to treat some of the most severe diseases.
Covance began moving instruments into the lab in January and started calibrating and validating the equipment in mid-February, company spokeswoman Camilla Strongin said. The first studies for clients are expected to begin in April or May, she said.
About 70 employees are working at the facility, and the number is expected to increase to 200 to 300 when the lab is in full operation,
The company has about 50 acres available for future expansion.