Pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Advances in Ireland

Ireland seeks to maintain a leading position in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturing as it also builds its base in research.
Jan 02, 2008
Volume 32, Issue 1

Like its counterparts in Puerto Rico and Singapore, Ireland is seeking to diversify its base in the life sciences. It has embarked on a plan of not only attracting investment in its traditional strength in bulk pharmaceutical and finished-product manufacturing, but also investment in earlier drug-development from basic research to process development to clinical trial management. In pursuing research, the Irish government has agreed support, including financial support for several significant collaborations between academia and life science companies. These companies include Genzyme (Cambridge, MA), Schering Plough (Kenilworth, NJ), GlaxoSmithKline (London), Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, CA), Janssen (Titusville, NJ), Pfizer (New York, NY), Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN), Merck Sharp & Dohme, the affiliate of Merck and Co. (Whitehouse Station, NJ), and Helsinn (Lugano, Switzerland).

Pharmaceutical strength

Life sciences exports from Ireland were EUR 47 billion ($70 billion), which included EUR 33 billion ($49 billion) in pharmaceuticals, according to IDA Ireland. IDA Ireland is the government agency responsible for foreign direct investment in Ireland. For purposes of the data, pharmaceuticals include finished products, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and intermediates.

Figure 1: Pharmaceutical and biotechnology activity in Ireland. Map is of January 2007. (Courtesy of IDA Ireland).
Overall, there are 83 pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Ireland as of the end of 2006 (see Figure 1), according to IDA Ireland. Thirty-eight plants manufacture finished products for proprietary drugs and 18 for generic drugs, and 27 plants manufacture APIs. Overall, there are 32 plants approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Pharmaceutical investment in Ireland

Table I: Select pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical investments in Ireland, 2004–2007.
Since 2004, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies have announced investments of approximately EUR 3 billion ($4.4 billion) in Ireland. Table I outlines these key investments.

Some key projects announced in 2007 includes Merck & Co.'s plan to invest EUR 200 million ($296 million) in a new vaccine facility at Carlow Town, with the support of IDA Ireland, where Merck acquired the 65-acre IDA Business and Technology Park.The project will support Merck's human vaccines and biologics businesses.

Wyeth (Madison, NJ) announced plans to invest EUR 24 million ($36 million) for a new pharmaceutical development center at its Wyeth Medica Ireland facility in Newbridge, County Kildare.Wyeth's Newbridge manufacturing facility is one of the largest solid-dosage pharmaceutical plants in Europe.

The new center will be a two-scale operation: a small-scale (bench-scale, < 5 kg) for developing new processes and a pilot-scale (5–50 kg), which will be a current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) facility. The pilot-plant facility will manufacture clinical trial products, including manufacturing finished products for Phase II and Phase III clinical trials of solid-dosage products in tablets, capsules and soft-gel capsules.

Wyeth also announced in 2007 an investment of EUR 24 million ($36 million) for dedicated research and development (R&D) and process development facilities at its Grange Castle Biopharmaceutical Campus in Clondalkin, Dublin. The investment will add 6000 m2 of laboratory space to the 2500 m2 already in operation.

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