Pfizer axes parts of $425m Irish expansion after dropping PCSK9 inhibitor

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Grange Castle, Ireland. Image: c/o Pfizer
Grange Castle, Ireland. Image: c/o Pfizer

Related tags biomanufacturing

Plans to build a five-story biomanufacturing plant in Ireland could be shelved following the clinical failure of Pfizer's proposed cholesterol-lowering candidate bococizumab.

In August, South Dublin County Council gave planning permission for Pfizer to expand its Grange Castle, Clondalkin biomanufacturing site to include a 34,000m2​ five-storey bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing to the south of its existing drug substance building.

The plant was intended to support development of Pfizer’s biologics pipeline, but following the abandonment of its proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 inhibitor (PCSK9i) candidate bococizumab earlier this month, the company has confirmed it is shelving part of its expansion plans.

“Following the decision to discontinue the development of bococizumab, part of the potential expansion for which the planning permission was sought will not now go ahead,”​ Pfizer Ireland spokesperson Karen O’Keeffe told Biopharma-Reporter. 

“Expansion in relation to other incoming products will continue as planned involving investment, recruitment and new technology.”

Pfizer ended development of bococizumab earlier this month​ after a Phase III study found the clinical profile included an unanticipated attenuation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering over time, as well as a higher level of immunogenicity and higher rate of injection-site reactions than shown with the other agents in this class.

Investment and job impact

Plans for the site also included adding a new warehouse and building a three-storey laboratory extension.

According to a proposed planning document filed in July​, total cost of expanding the site was estimated at between €300m and €400m ($320-425m). The work would also employ a peak of approximately 1000 construction workers over a two year period, and when fully operational add up to 300 full-time jobs to the site. 

However, O’Keefe said: We never announced or confirmed any expansion or jobs – there was speculative detail in the planning process documentation which was featured in media.”

Located 10km west of Dublin, Grange Castle is one of Pfizer’s largest global biotechnology sites and has seen a number of investments over the past few years.

In 2011​, $200m was invested at the site to add conjugation, pegylation and QC tech, while in 2013​ the firm doubled production capacity through a further $130m. And in 2015​ Pfizer added an extra 90 operational jobs at the site to support biomanufacturing.      .

According to O’Keeffe, current and future development at Grange Castle “is based on a number of commercialised products and pipeline compounds.”

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