Global biopharmaceutical company Allergan has completed a €160 million investment in its Westport, Co Mayo, facility in advance of a takeover by Abbvie, which is due to complete in March.
The New York-listed botox maker on Tuesday officially opened the facility, which will create 63 jobs and enhance the site as a strategic position for manufacturing of Allergan’s botulinum toxin brand.
Allergan Westport site lead and vice-president of global manufacturing Paul Coffey said the company does not “expect to see any material change to the operations in Ireland” as a result of the Abbvie deal.
“The Westport operation is a key part of Allergan today – we expect it to be a key part of any future organisation also,” he added.
The news will be of importance to the wider population in Westport, of which about a quarter are employed by Allergan. Minister for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring said the investment the company had put in of €750 million since its foundation here was “fantastic”.
He told the attendant media: “You don’t talk up companies like this enough, you don’t give them the credit they deserve. They employ a lot of people, they keep a lot of families happy.”
Irish-domiciled Allergan, with a market value of $62 billion (€56 billion), said its investment will increase its workforce across the Republic beyond 2,000. In addition to its Co Mayo operations, Allergan has a manufacturing site in Clonshaugh, Dublin, an office in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, and a facility in Galway.
Its Westport operation is likely to be rebranded when the deal closes as an Abbvie plant, ending the 40-year association the Allergan brand has had with Co Mayo. But for medical aesthetics, the Allergan brand is expected to be retained.
Wayne Swanton, Allergan's executive vice-president of global operations, said he doesn't believe the deal had any implications for any resources here but Abbvie can make any changes it wished, he added.
In addition to completing the botox manufacturing process in Westport, Allergan also runs part of its eye-care divisions in the facility. The company started producing botox in Co Mayo in 1994.
The completion of its new facility, known as its “biologics two” facility, marks the opening of the largest and most complex facility in the Allergan estate. The plant in Westport exports product to 70 countries and, since its foundation, has shipped more than 100 million vials of botox.
The biologics two facility comprises 18,000sq m of mainly automated lines, as well as state of the art microbiology and cell-based laboratory facilities with research and development capabilities.
The investment follows €50 million the company spent on expanding its laboratory operations and manufacturing operations in 2018 for new products.
Mr Swanton said that Allergan’s investment in the Republic has been helped by the country making “education, training and investment in its biopharma workforce a priority”.
"We continue to believe Ireland is an outstanding country for investment and expansion for all our products that are manufactured here in Westport," he said.