Washington (AFP) – Erstwhile photo giant Eastman Kodak will launch a new business manufacturing pharmaceuticals amid the coronavirus pandemic, using a $765 million government loan, the company announced Tuesday.
The loan from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will fund the creation of Kodak Pharmaceuticals, which “will produce critical pharmaceutical components that have been identified as essential but have lapsed into chronic national shortage,” the agency said in a statement.
The firm, which signed a “letter of interest” with the DFC on Tuesday, will produce “up to 25 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients used in non-biologic, non-antibacterial, generic pharmaceuticals.”
Kodak, once a giant in the world of photography whose business has struggled in recent years as cell phones have replaced cameras and film, will expand its existing facilities in Rochester, New York and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The company said the new pharmaceutical business will support 360 direct jobs and 1,200 indirectly.
“By leveraging our vast infrastructure, deep expertise in chemicals manufacturing and heritage of innovation and quality, Kodak will play a critical role in the return of a reliable American pharmaceutical supply chain,” the company’s Executive Chairman Jim Continenza said in the statement.
The DFC loan is the first to be made after President Donald Trump in May signed an executive order aimed at encouraging domestic production of materials needed to fight COVID-19.
While Americans consume about 40 percent of the components used to make generic pharmaceuticals worldwide, only about 10 percent of those are made in the country’s borders, the DFC said.
“We are pleased to support Kodak in this bold new venture,” DFC Chief Executive Adam Boehler said. “Our collaboration with this iconic American company will promote health and safety at home and around the world.”