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BMS earmarks ten-year old Irish API plant for closure

By Dan Stanton , 10-Mar-2014
Last updated on 10-Mar-2014 at 17:42 GMT

Bristol-Myers Squibb says 160 jobs will be affected in Ireland as changing market demand drives the closure of an API plant.

The Cruiserath, County Dublin plant opened in 2004 and has been producing bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for BMS since. However, the company said last week the facility will shut by the end of 2015 and 130 employees will be affected.

“This decision to close the Cruiserath facility reflects the changing market demand for a number of products manufactured at the site,” the firm said.

An operating unit at the nearby Swords API facility would also stop production as “part of ongoing optimization in the company’s manufacturing network,” the company added, impacting an additional 30 workers.

Drugs for hypertension, diabetes and HIV are manufactured from Cruiserath, but the demand and exclusivity of these products are changing, the firm told in-Pharmatechnologist.com:

"The Cruiserath facility manufactures Irbesartan, the active pharmaceutical ingredient for Avapro/Avalide, under a supply agreement with Sanofi  - [responsible for worldwide BMS sales of $1.2bn (€860k) in 2010 ] -that will end in 2015," we were told, whilst its protease inhibitor for the treatment of HIV, Reyataz, made at the facility, loses patent exclusivity in the U.S. at the end of 2017.

"The facility also supports products in the diabetes portfolio now owned by AstraZeneca," BMS said.

"Lower global demand for the products manufactured at the Cruiserath facility made the decision necessary. We have excess manufacturing capacity in Ireland and the Cruiserath facility and P5 plant [Swords] do not have the needed infrastructure to meet the future product portfolio."

Irish Pharma

Though this announced closure deals a blow to the economy, Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) said “it should be remembered that the pharmaceutical sector remains a substantial employer in Ireland.”

However, a number of Irish plants have been shuttered in the last year with Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside North America) announcing the closure of both an API plant and a formulated dose site ,  and Pfizer blaming the patent cliff for the divestiture of its Lipitor API facility .

The country has, however, seen a move towards higher end biomanufacturing with large investments from firms such as Pfizer at its Grange Castle, Dublin biologics facility and Genzyme at its Lantus site in Waterford.

“[Other] recent investment wins for Ireland in the biopharma/pharma space include Alexion , Jazz Pharmaceuticals , BioMarin , Regeneron , Abbvie and Eli Lilly ,” the IDA’s CEO Barry O'Leary said. “IDA remains confident it can attract further fresh pharma investment to Ireland during 2014.”

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