Ireland is a primary centre for Wyeth's biopharmaceuticals activities, both for production and R&D. Earlier this year, the company started a four-year research project with Dublin University aimed at improved the efficiency of biologics production.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals' president, Bernard Poussot, said the new plant will become one of the firm's key biotech development, production and distribution efforts in the coming years, complementing its US facilities in Andover, Massachusetts.
Wyeth invested nearly $2 billion in the Grange Castle facility, where site development work began in October 2002. The firm has invested heavily in the last few years to become one of the largest global biotech companies with the aim of combining a biotech culture with the resources and global reach of a large pharmaceutical company.
Biotech drugs are a rapidly growing segment of Wyeth's more than $17.4 billion business and include such innovative products as the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel (etanercept), ReFacto (antihemophilic factor, recombinant), BeneFix (coagulation Factor IX, recombinant) and Prevenar, its pneumococcal vaccine for children.
The campus at Grange Castle employs more than 1,000 people and will comprise three separate facilities - a drug development unit, a drug substance site, and a drug product facility. These facilities will go into production on a phased basis over the next four years.
With the addition of Grange Castle to Wyeth's existing manufacturing sites in Ireland, Wyeth says it has now become the country's largest pharmaceutical employer.
Among the biotech products that will be produced at Grange Castle is Enbrel, for which Wyeth owns the rights outside the US. Prevenar is also scheduled to be produced at the unit, as is the company's newly approved intravenous antibiotic Tygacil (tygacycline), used for the treatment of serious skin and intra-abdominal hospital acquired infections.