Sanofi has unveiled a 44 million euro investment at its facility in Waterford, Ireland, to help meet escalating demand for its long-acting basal insulin Lantus.

The Waterford facility is operated by Sanofi's Genzyme subsidiary and concentrates on fill-and-finish activities for products such as Cerezyme (imiglucerase) for Gaucher disease, Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta) for Fabry disease and Myozyme/Lumizyme (algucosidase alfa) for Pompe disease.

Lantus (insulin glargine) is the first non-Genzyme product to be made at the plant and - subject to regulatory approvals - should start to roll off the production line in 2016.

The product is the top-selling insulin in the world, adding almost 5 billion euros to Sanofi's coffers in 2012 - a rise of almost 20% on the prior year - and has around an 80 per cent share of the long-acting insulin market.

Furthermore, its leadership position looks even more secure in the wake of a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision not to approve Novo Nordisk's rival product Tresiba (insulin degludec) earlier this week, despite green lights for the new product in the EU and Japan.

The latest investment is a major vote of confidence in the Waterford site, which employs more than 500 people, according to IDA Ireland.

The facility has benefitted from problems at Genzyme's US facility in Allston Landing - which was shut down temporarily in 2009 and resulted in various fill-and-finish activities being transferred to Waterford and elsewhere in Genzyme's manufacturing network.

In 2011 Sanofi set aside 150 million euros to double capacity at Waterford, bringing the total investment in the plant to 500 million euros since it was first set up by Genzyme in 2001.

Pat O'Sullivan, who serves as general manager, of the Waterford facility, said: "This substantial investment and the introduction of Sanofi product to our facility provide an excellent platform for future sustainability."