In July 2019, Elysian publisher Karen Floyd interviewed Lou Kennedy, CEO, and owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a global leader in manufacturing generic respiratory medications and inhalation products. Located in West Columbia, South Carolina at the Saxe-Gotha Industrial Park, Nephron is best-known for the processing of Albuterol inhalation solutions, which was awarded FDA approval in 1997 to help children and adults breathe easier. Lou joined Nephron in 2001 and assumed the lead position in 2007. Under her guidance, the company doubled its base in less than two years to over 2,000 employees and in March 2019, completed a $12 million expansion program at its Lexington County facility. One of the most notable of Lou’s achievements was building a national sales force from the ground up—a rarity in the pharma industry—which grew the company by 300% to one-billion product doses shipped in each of the last five years.
Where is Lou now?
The woman who aspired to be a television chef has come a long way on the path that took her in such a completely different direction. Last month, Nephron expanded operations by investing a further $100 million in Lexington County and creating 250 new jobs at Nephron Nitrile, a plant that will produce American-made, medical-grade nitrile gloves. The announcement was made on July 15 by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster at a gathering of strategic partners, business leaders, and public officials.
“Over the course of the last year, we have poured every bit of creativity, energy, and resources we have at our disposal into doing our part, as a proud Made-in-America manufacturer, to respond to an unprecedented crisis,” Lou Kennedy announced. “Nephron Nitrile is the latest part of our ongoing effort to make South Carolina the nationwide example for effectively responding to America’s needs, this time by shoring up the domestic supply chain.” The new operation will be located within an Opportunity Zone, that is, a program created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which encourages economic development and job creation within economically distressed communities. Part of Lou’s plan is tied to a heartstring: her mother taught first grade for 40 years and that has inspired her to spearhead efforts to recruit local educators who are looking for second incomes.
As if her work didn’t take up enough of her time or energy, Lou, along with her husband, Bill, established the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center in conjunction with the USC School of Pharmacy. In addition, she serves on the Palmetto Conservation Foundation Board, the Garnet Way Campaign, and the Central Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Advisory Board. Recently, she received South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, from another Elysian Inspiring Woman, Nikki Haley, in recognition of her outstanding service—just one of many honors conferred upon this Inspiring Woman.