UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, the second-largest pharmaceutical group in the world, is to bolster its operations in Singapore with the construction of a new, $68 million research and development facility.

The state-of-the-art plant is to be built on the site housing GSK’s manufacturing facility, and is scheduled to commence operations in 2007, developing techniques for drug production and manufacturing compounds for clinical trials. A company spokesperson was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Singapore is already home to the operations of seven pharmaceutical heavyweights, including Pfizer, Wyeth and Schering-Plough and, according to the Business Times of Malaysia, Philip Yeo, chairman of the state-run Agency for Science, Technology and Research, hopes the new facility will boost the country’s aim of becoming a strategic site for producing high-value pharmaceuticals. Output from Singapore’s biomedical sciences cluster hit $15.8 billion last year, Yeo noted, adding that the aim is to boost this figure to $25 billion by 2015.