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Lilly's new Ireland plant is prep for pipeline products

By Natalie Morrison , 29-Feb-2012

Eli Lilly says plans for a new €330m ($444m) manufacturing facility in Ireland are in preparation for the launch of a range of its pipeline molecules.

The big biopharma business will build its new 240,000 sq ft plant in Kinsale, Ireland, where it has existing API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) production activities. When complete Lilly expects to employ 200 people at the plant.

A spokesperson for the firm told in-PharmaTechnologist the new factory is now vying for a list of products discussed on a recent investor conference call, which are all under development in the US.

The plant – which is expected to reach completion in three years – will work in conjunction with the pre-established facility, which makes oncology drug Alimta (pemetrexed dosdium), antipsychotic Zyprexa (olanzapine), and Evista (raloxifene) to name but a few.

“The facility has a complex build time of around three years,” the spokesperson said.

“Molecules that may end up being produced in Kinsale are still under testing, which fits quite well becausethe plant should be ready just in time for Lilly rolling-out the list of pipeline products.”

He added the firm is still not sure exactly which products will be produced there, and a lot relies on the compounds passing through the regulatory process smoothly.

However the molecules discussed on the conference call included BAFF mAb for lupus, dulaglutide and a new insulin glargine, both for diabetes. Lilly has more than 60 other products in clinical development.

The spokesperson added: “Almost 50 per cent of the pipeline molecules are produced from a biotech platform and the new facility will be designed to support this platform.”

The Blueprints

Lilly said it is still too early to speculate exactly what type of equipment will be installed in the new building.

However, the spokesperson did nod towards possible high potency production plans when he said: “The site's existing small molecule manufacturing facilities have extensive experience in producing high potency products.”

The luck of the Irish

The news is the latest in a stream of pharma investments in the South West of Ireland – most recently for Abbott, which announced plans to inject €85m into a new plant in Sligo.

When asked why the area is such a magnet for the life sciences business, Lilly’s spokesperson said: “We can only speak for ourselves. This is an expansion of one of the most successful and long standing of Lilly’s operations.”

Of expansions in the South West of Ireland, the IDA recently told in-PharmaTechnologist: “I suppose one reason for the amount of firms investing in Ireland is the amount of skilled labour available.”

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