RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Trump administration granted Phlow Corporation in Richmond a four-year, $354 million contract to produce a variety of generic drugs and their ingredients.

Dr. Eric Edwards is the CEO and co-founder of Phlow Corp. He was also a co-founder of Kaléo, another Richmond-based pharmaceutical development company.

Edwards said the contract is to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients, chemical compounds and generic drugs, including essential medicines used to treat COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized.

“We’re talking about critical medicines that are used to place patients on the ventilator. They are medicines such as key antibiotics as well as medicines for pain management,” Edwards told 8News.

Edwards also said the coronavirus pandemic has focused attention on risks to the nation’s pharmaceutical supply.

“Long before COVID-19 existed, there were many drugs already on the FDA drug shortage list. We’re talking about 100 medicines and many of these were essential medicines critical for maintaining the life of Americans,” said Edwards.

It’s estimated about 80 percent of active ingredients are produced overseas. Dr. Frank Gupton is Phlow’s co-founder and head of Medicines for All Institute at VCU.

“Manufacturing of these essential drugs has migrated over to China and India over time,” said Gupton. “I think that the COVID-19 epidemic has kinda shown a light on this gap that we got right now and the ability to produce our own drugs.”

Phlow will develop the processes inside their labs and transfer ingredients to a pharmaceutical plant in Petersburg to make the drugs commercially. This will create about 350 jobs for the area.

Dr. Edwards said Phlow has already delivered 1.6 million doses of key essential medicines to the strategic national stockpile. They have already secured over a half dozen of the most vulnerable, key medicines and their ingredients.

“We’re manufacturing today and we’re gonna continue to manufacture these drugs while we stand up in advance manufacturing infrastructure right here in the U.S,” said Edwards.