Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca will create 100 jobs in Ireland as it invests $360 million in an advanced manufacturing facility in Dublin.
The decision has dashed hopes in the UK that the drugmaker would locate the facility there, and comes following the completion of the $39 billion takeover of Alexion, a specialist in rare diseases, earlier this year.
The new plant, which is a next-generation active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility for small molecules, will produce primary ingredients for medicines. Small molecules are the mainstay of pharmaceutical drugs and lately have been used in new ways to help target cancer in treatments such as the company’s Enhertu.
The new plant will allow for late-stage development and early commercial supply, bolstering AstraZeneca’s supply network. Located at the Alexion campus in College Park, Dublin, it will create highly skilled roles for scientists and engineers, and is the company’s first manufacturing plant in Ireland.
AstraZeneca did not comment on whether the new plant would be involved in the manufacturing of ingredients for Covid-related medicines, but said it would permit the addition of capability to manufacture a “wide range of medicines”, including antibody drug conjugates and oligonucleotides.
The project is being supported by investment agency IDA Ireland.
"This is a tremendously proud moment for us all at AstraZeneca and I am delighted that we are bringing this very significant investment to Dublin which, with the support of the IDA, will create highly skilled jobs, nurture the country's dynamic life sciences sector and allow for the development of high value-added medicines," said Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca.
The investment programme should significantly reduce commercialisation lead times and costs, and introduce more sustainable manufacturing processes, AstraZeneca said.
"The future manufacturing of APIs for our medicines includes compounds with highly complex synthesis, requiring next-generation technologies and capabilities that can respond quickly and nimbly to rapidly-changing clinical and commercial needs," said Pam Cheng, executive vice president of global operations and IT with AstraZeneca. "This significant investment will ensure the AstraZeneca supply network is fit for the future."
The news was welcomed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who said it was a “significant commitment” to the country.
“In choosing Ireland as the location for its new next-generation active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing facility, AstraZeneca joins the very strong and successful network of global life sciences companies we have in Ireland,” he said.
News that AstraZeneca has chosen Ireland will be a blow to the UK post-Brexit, although the pharma giant did plough £380 million into creating a new manufacturing and packing facility for its oncology medicine Zoladex in Macclesfield, in the north of England.
– Additional reporting: Bloomberg