Volume 89 Issue 39 | p. 6 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 26, 2011

Ireland Beckons Biotech Business

Pharmaceuticals: Investments and mergers have Irish eyes smiling
Department: Business
Keywords: pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, mergers, investment, Ireland
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Pfizer is expanding biomanufacturing capacity at the Grange Castle site in Clondalkin, Ireland.
Credit: Pfizer
Pfizer’s Grange Castle biotechnology manufacturing facility in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin.
 
Pfizer is expanding biomanufacturing capacity at the Grange Castle site in Clondalkin, Ireland.
Credit: Pfizer

In a welcome boost, Ireland is seeing a wave of biotechnology investments and new companies. With pharmaceutical and chemical products making up more than 50% of Irish exports, such developments are vital to the country’s economy.

Pfizer says it will invest $200 million to expand its Grange Castle biotech manufacturing facility near Clondalkin. The site is already Pfizer’s largest investment in Ireland and the only facility in Europe to manufacture biopharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines at one location, the company says. The move, Pfizer adds, will strengthen its manufacturing and supply network.

According to the industrial development agency IDA Ireland, Pfizer is Ireland’s largest pharmaceutical investor, having spent more than $7 billion there. But Pfizer has been shedding other Irish operations. In March it sold its Dún Laoghaire biologics formulation and fill facility to Amgen. Three months later its bulk biologics plant in Shanbally went to BioMarin Pharmaceutical.

Meanwhile, mergers involving other firms are creating new, larger businesses with headquarters in Ireland. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Jazz Pharmaceuticals will acquire Ireland’s Azur Pharma to form a Dublin-based firm with expected annual sales of about $475 million. As an Irish company, Jazz will see its tax rate drop by at least five to 10 percentage points.

“The tax benefits are nice,” Jazz CEO Bruce C. Cozadd told stock analysts in a Sept. 19 conference call, and “may provide us a competitive advantage with respect to other companies, but it was not the driver for this transaction.”

The formerly U.S.-based Alkermes has opened headquarters in Ireland after merging with Elan Drug Technologies, once part of Ireland’s Elan. Alkermes also announced a deal to make a finished drug at its Athlone, Ireland, site for a top 10 drug firm. The deal is expected to generate up to $20 million in annual revenues by 2016.

“Ireland once again is becoming a favored location for foreign investment,” said Matt Moran, director of industry group PharmaChemical Ireland, when announcing a report on science investment last week. Drug firms can benefit from a favorable tax regime, a highly skilled workforce, a strong compliance record, and easy access to European markets, he added.

 
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