Pfizer is expanding two of its manufacturing plants in Ireland, investing $100 million into the Grange Castle facility in Dublin and $30 million at its Ringaskiddy site in Cork.
First up, the cash being put into Grange Castle will expand the unit that manufactures Pfizer’s biologic rheumatoid arthritis treatment Xeljanz (tofacitinib) and a new production line will be established that will increase capacity and double productivity. The drug giant says that this in turn will release capacity to allow new mammalian biotechnology drug substances from its pipeline to be manufactured at the site.
Preparation is underway to allow construction to commence with 140 construction jobs over the next year, with a peak of 250 jobs. The facility will be operational in 2015, when the first process validation batches will be made.
The investment at Ringaskiddy is aimed at developing "specialist new capability to manufacture some of Pfizer’s newest medicines in cancer and other future pipeline medicines". Paul Duffy, Pfizer’s vice president of manufacturing for Ireland, said that "we are seeing the benefits of the investments we’ve been making in our innovative core, as evidenced by recent key launches of medicines for stroke prevention, RA and cancer".
He added that "there is opportunity for Pfizer’s Irish sites to attract the development of new medicines, while also continuing to manufacture existing, important medicines". Dr Duffy concluded by saying "our Irish operations are significant [and] this additional scale and capability arising from these investments ensure both sites are well-placed for the future within the Pfizer global supply network".
The investment is good news for the pharma sector in Ireland and it comes a month after Pfizer announced 177 job cuts at its two Cork sites. That was a result to a fall in demand for some of its off-patent drugs.
The latest investment is supported by IDA Ireland, the country's investment agency, and the latter's chief executive Barry O'Leary said that the Ringaskiddy site was Pfizer’s first manufacturing facility in Ireland set up almost 45 years ago and "it is fantastic to see the work at that site evolve into high-tech manufacturing".
Pfizer has invested more than $7 billion in Ireland since opening its first site in 1969 and in 2011 announced a $200 million investment in the Grange Castle site. The drugs giant employs 3,200 people at six sites in the country.