Animal biologics group Nexvet creates 30 jobs in Tullamore

Irish group is running clinical trials on drugs to treat chronic pain in dogs and cats

Nexvet chief executive Dr Mark Heffernan

Nexvet chief executive Dr Mark Heffernan


Animal healthcare group Nexvet Biopharma has bought a biologics manufacturing plant in Tullamore in a move that it expects will deliver 30 jobs over the next year.

Nexvet, which is headquartered in Ireland and listed on the Nasdaq, says it is looking to build a pharmaceutical business based on drug discovery in Australia, clinical development in the United States and biomanufacturing in Ireland.

It is looking to capitalise on a growing market for therapies for companion animals – generally, dogs, cats and horses – and its current focus is chronic pain in dogs and cats and inflammatory disease in dogs.

Using its in house technology, Nexvet takes drugs that have already been proved safe and effective in trials for human therapies and creates biologic monoclonal antibodies that are recognised as “native” by an animal’s immune system.

Established by serial entrepreneur Mark Heffernan, who was previously chief executive of Trinity College immunology drug development spinout, Opsona, it is currently in the clinical development stage

BioNua Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nexvet, is paying €1.75 million to acquire the manufacturing plant within the facility and has signed a 10-year lease, with an option to purchase the building.

The plant was previously occupied by Indian human biologics group group Reliance Gene Medix. It pulled out of Tullamore in April with the loss of 15 jobs.

Nexvet will manufacture biopharmaceutical drugs, initially for clinical trials and later, if successful, for commercial product.

“The opportunity to assume full control of our manufacturing is compelling, as existing manufacturers may face regulatory uncertainties regarding the manufacture of human and veterinary products in the same facility,” said Dr Heffernan, who is chief executive of Nexvet.

“Securing this facility at a fraction of its replacement cost reduces this uncertainty and will significantly lower our development expenses and ultimately, cost of goods.”

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said specialty pharmaceutical developers and biomanufacturers “are an ideal fit for Tullamore, which sits at the heart of the Irish life sciences cluster”.