IRELAND — Pharmaceutical companies are relentlessly expanding their presence in Ireland, and Gilead is the latest big name to join the fray.

The company is poised to pump €45 million (US$47.5 million) into expanding its facilities in Carrigtwohill, County Cork, in the southern part of the country.

This investment will be used to construct a 55,714-square-foot warehouse, which will provide storage for both finished products and raw materials.

Gilead’s operations in Ireland play a critical role in the company’s global supply chain, and this expansion is expected to facilitate additional future investment in the company’s manufacturing and packaging capabilities in the country.

As reported by The Irish Times, construction is scheduled to begin in April, with completion anticipated by November 2024.

Currently, Gilead’s 366,000-square-foot manufacturing site in Cork accounts for 30% of all its solid oral drug development, with 24 of its products being produced or packaged at Carrigtwohill.

The site is also responsible for production, quality control, and packaging for the distribution of Gilead’s products to the EU and other regions internationally.

Carrigtwohill has become a favored destination for pharmaceutical companies, and Gilead is just one of several big names that have set up shop in the town and are planning expansions.

Merck KGaA, a German drug manufacturer, is pouring approximately €290 million (US$306.1 million) into increasing its membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill to support its gene therapy manufacturing capabilities.

This latest plan builds on a €36 million (US$38 million) investment made in 2021 for another production line at its facility.

AbbVie, on the other hand, is investing €60 million (US$63.3 million) in expanding its manufacturing site in Carrigtwohill, and plans to increase its headcount by 70, although no further details have been provided.

Keys to Ireland’s resilient pharma industry

The blooming pharma manufacturing sector in Ireland can be attributed to several enabling factors.

Ireland has a favorable tax regime, which initially attracted many pharma companies to set up operations there.

Pharma companies operating in Ireland have access to several financial supports and incentives, which have contributed to the growth of the industry in the country.

The Irish Revenue Commissioners offer a 25% R&D tax credit for companies that undertake new or additional research, development, and innovation activity in Ireland.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) provide funding avenues for basic biopharmaceutical research and disruptive innovations, respectively.

These supports have been instrumental in the growth of cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing in the country.

The established environment for pharma activity in Ireland has also attracted some of the world’s largest pharma companies, such as Pfizer, to establish operations and grow them considerably over time.

Pfizer’s investment in Ireland has grown to nearly US$8.5 billion, and the country is now home to some of the company’s leading-edge operations.

More than 85 pharma companies, including nine of the top 10, operate over 100 facilities in Ireland.

This has resulted in the country becoming one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals in the world, with around US$85 billion worth of products exported each year.

Ireland’s success in becoming the third-largest exporter of pharmaceuticals globally has given pharma companies all the evidence they need when eyeing expansion opportunities.

Finally, Ireland’s ability to attract foreign direct investment has been a key driver of the growth of the pharma manufacturing sector.

Companies such as China’s WuXi Biologics, Merck, and Shire (now owned by Takeda) have all made significant investments in the country’s pharma industry in recent years, which has helped to further cement Ireland’s position as a leading global hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

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