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Innovative Houston-based pharmacy debuts new $55M facility

The new 86,000-square-foot facility features innovative technology for purifying water, automation, and more. Photo courtesy of Empower Pharmacy

Adding heft to Houston's health care economy, Empower Pharmacy on August 26 publicly debuted what the company bills as North America's most technologically advanced compounding pharmacy.

Highlights of the new $55 million, 86,000-square-foot facility include extensive automation, a top-of-the line cleanroom, and equipment that generates purified water, clean steam, and clean compressed air. The space also features a warehouse capable of storing at least nine months of raw pharmaceutical ingredients to minimize supply chain problems.

Houston-based Empower Pharmacy supplies pharmaceutical products to more than 1 million patients and 2,000 institutions across the country each year.

As described by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), drug compounding involves combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient. Compounding includes the blending of two or more drugs. Compounded drugs are not FDA-approved.

The new Empower Pharmacy facility, at 7601 N. Sam Houston Parkway W., opened earlier this month.

"This innovative facility, combined with our more than 500 dedicated employees, enables us to increase our operational capacity, allowing us to prepare thousands of custom prescriptions each day for millions of patients across the country," Shaun Noorian, founder and CEO of Empower Pharmacy, says in a news release. "We are setting a new standard for compounded medicine, striving to achieve a superior pharmaceutical experience, from order placement to delivery."

Empower Pharmacy has opened its new space — with an additional facility in the works for next year. Photo courtesy of Empower

Next year, Empower Pharmacy plans to open a second facility mirroring the new facility, but this one will operate with a federal 503B license. The license will let Empower Pharmacy make compounding medicines and sell them directly to hospitals, doctor's offices and other health care institutions.

Brunner calls Empower Pharmacy "a leader in pharmacy compounding, pushing the envelope in terms of innovation and technology. With this new state-of-the-art facility, they're not only increasing capacity, but also elevating compliance and safety and — most importantly — the care they provide patients."

In July, Noorian told InnovationMap that he started Empower Pharmacy out of frustration with medication he was getting from a compounding pharmacy in Houston. At the time, he was a hydraulic fracturing field engineer at Schlumberger.

Noorian initially operated his pharmacy from 100 square feet of leased space in a doctor's office.

"Slowly but surely, patients and prescribers around the area were very happy with the level of service and quality that they were receiving from our pharmacy. And we would get more requests through simple word of mouth and reputation," Noorian recalled. "We grew pretty quickly out of that space and then built out a 1,500-square-foot space in a shopping center a couple of years later."

Several more locations and expansions followed, leading to the opening of the 86,000-square-foot facility.

"We've always concentrated on — since the inception of the company — quality, service, and cost," Noorian told InnovationMap. "And we're always working to figure out how to increase quality, how to decrease costs, and how to make it easier and more convenient for our customers to use us."

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Building Houston

 
 

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity. Photo via Getty Images

Three big businesses — Air Liquide, BASF, and Shell — have added their firepower to the effort to promote large-scale carbon capture and storage for the Houston area’s industrial ecosystem.

These companies join 11 others that in 2021 threw their support behind the initiative. Participants are evaluating how to use safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy, power generation, and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels, and packaging.

Other companies backing the CCS project are Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66, and Valero.

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy, says in a news release.

McConnell and others say CCS could help Houston and the rest of the U.S. net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting current jobs.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. Carbon dioxide from industrial users in the Houston area could be stored in nearby onshore and offshore storage sites.

An analysis of U.S Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than 130 years’ worth of industrial and power generation emissions in the United States, based on 2018 data.

“Carbon capture and storage is not a single technology, but rather a series of technologies and scientific breakthroughs that work in concert to achieve a profound outcome, one that will play a significant role in the future of energy and our planet,” says Gretchen Watkins, U.S. president of Shell. “In that spirit, it’s fitting this consortium combines CCS blueprints and ambitions to crystalize Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world while contributing to local and U.S. plans to help achieve net-zero emissions.”

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