In May, Pfizer’s Little Island facility in Cork, Ireland was put up for sale due to the overcapacity resulting from the loss of patent exclusivity for Lipitor - the Pharma Giant’s topseller anti-cholesterol drug – which had been manufactured there.
However, today the firm has announced it will invest $100m in its Grange Castle site in Dublin, and $30m in its Ringaskiddy, Cork facility.
Pfizer Ireland spokesperson Karen O’Keeffe told in-Pharmatechnologist.com “the investments today help ensure that Grange Castle and Ringaskiddy have a good opportunity to develop Pfizer’s new and pipeline medicines.”
Grange Castle will be fully operational in 2015 and will double productivity at Pfizer’s biologics manufacturing capacity, expanding the unit that produces protein drug substance using mammalian cell culture biotechnology, including the substance for Pfizer’s biologic rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Enbrel.
For Ringaskiddy, the $30m will be invested in both clinical and commercial manufacturing capacity pipeline cancer drugs, as well as some investment in R&D.
Furthermore, the news comes as an affirmation that Pfizer remains committed to the plant following the loss of European patent on erectile dysfunction drug Viagra last month.
In recent years, Pfizer has been selling facilities (on top of the recent Little Island sale announcement, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin was sold to Amgen in 2011, and Shanbally in Cork was sold to Biomarin) and cutting manufacturing jobs, including 177 last year, some of which were at Ringaskiddy.
O’Keefe said: “This is a challenging time for pharmaceutical companies and for Pfizer. We have been planning for patent expiry of many of our key medicines for some time and that unfortunately necessitated that we scale back in some areas of manufacturing where reduced scale is now required.”
250 construction jobs will be created during the expansions but no permanent positions will be added at the facilities.
Correction: This article originally said Grange Castle manufactured Xeljanz, Pfizer's oral immunosuppressant containing the active ingredient tofacitinib. Xeljanz is in fact a small molecule drug and not a biologic and is yet to have received EU marketing authorisation. Furthermore it is not manufactured at Grange Castle whereas Pfizer has confirmed its biologic rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Enbrel, is made there.