US pharma giant Gilead Sciences has formally opened a centre of excellence in Dublin focusing on the development of medicines for children.
The office, based on the city’s North Dock, will oversee the development of new paediatric versions of its portfolio of medicines.
It is responsible for co-ordinating paediatric clinical trials for seven products across 18 countries. These include trials of treatments for HIV, hepatitis B and Covid-19 for use in children.
Gilead said it plans to expand the remit of the new Dublin operation to include work on clinical trials for adult therapies in development by the US group. It will also be home to part of an artificial intelligence team Gilead is recruiting.
“Gilead’s therapies address some of the world’s most challenging viral diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and Covid-19,” said Gilead chief executive and chairman Daniel O’Day, who was in Dublin for the event.
“Our Dublin teams play a critical role in adapting these therapies to treat children.”
Gilead is betting big on an expansion into cancer therapies and Mr O'Day said that the Irish teams would have a role to play in "addressing the urgent challenge of childhood cancers".
Gilead, which is based in California, has had a presence in Ireland since 1999 when it took over the business of Nexstar and employs more than 500 people in the State, making it the company's largest European Union operation.
It has a drug manufacturing base at Carrigtwohill in Cork, where it makes 22 of its medicines, including treatments for HIV, in which it is the world leader, and hepatitis C.
Carrigtwohill, where the company employs more than 300 people, accounts for a quarter of all Gilead’s worldwide oral solid dose production – tablets, capsules and other medications that are swallowed.
The US company also has a financial shared services centre at Little Island, also in Cork, and a distribution business in Dublin for the group's European and some other non-US markets.
“Ireland has long been a global hub for life sciences and Gilead is proud to have been part of that since 1999,” said Mr O’Day. “The new Dublin facility is a further investment in our long-term presence.”
More than 70 people are already working at the docklands side and the company says it will be recruiting another 33 people this year. It is also adding 24 jobs in Cork.
Reggie Kelly, who runs the Dublin site and is Gilead's vice-president of development, said: "Development is a critical stage in the life cycle of a medicine and Ireland is a global life science hub.
“With the clinical, academic and regulatory expertise available – in addition to industry talent – Dublin was the obvious location. We chose this office carefully, for its location and it’s sustainability credentials, and I’m thrilled to be able to open it to our team and our external partners.”