Centecor plans to construct a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing 'Centre of Excellence' in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, that will produce monoclonal antibody products for the detection and treatment of many human diseases. It will also be used to produce material for clinical trials.
The project, which will employ an estimated 330 people over five years, comes after a report that raised doubts about Ireland's continuing status as a good location for pharma manufacturing.
Talking at a recent business convention, Matt Moran, director of PharmaChemical Ireland said that the 'golden years' of growth for this sector in Ireland could be over because of the tough competitive environment it is now facing.
Mary Harney, ireland's deputy premier and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, confirmed the importance of the Centocor investment, saying it had "major implications for Ireland".
She added that "its value to Ireland's reputation as an attractive, inward investment location cannot be overstated. Centocor's investment will be pivotal to Ireland's quest to be the number one location of choice worldwide for major biopharmaceutical activity."
The biopharmaceutical industry is estimated to be growing at approximately 15 per cent per annum. Robert J. Sheroff, president of Global Biologics Supply Chain at Centocor said that the plant will allow the firm to meet demand for this rapid growth and have increased manufacturing capacity available to grow its biopharmaceutical business.
He added that Ireland offers strategic proximity to Centocor's largest biopharm manufacturing facility in Leiden, the Netherlands.
Johnson & Johnson already employs 1,300 people in Ireland. Other subsidiaries present there include Janssen Pharmaceutical, making active pharmaceutical ingredients for the company's international plants, Alza Ireland, which makes drug delivery patches and has recently completed construction of a new facility in Co Tipperary, hip implant maker DePuy and the manufacturer of contact lenses Vistakon.
AK Pharmaceuticals, the European pharma business of Aker Kvaerner, also recently announced that it would set up a new operational centre in Ireland, giving it a base for future expansion in the country.