The Japanese juggernaut wants to increase sales of its drugs in the European market and will use its new UK manufacturing base to improve the supply chain to this region. The new plant forms part of Eisai's new European Knowledge Centre (EKC) in Hatfield, north of London, where the firm has already begun relocating most of its UK-based research and development, production, and marketing operations as part of a consolidation effort. The manufacturing facility will undertake formulation, finished dosage, packaging, warehousing and distribution of most of Eisai's drugs on the European market, although some drugs, such as injectables will not be suitable and will continue to be made in Japan, as will all bulk ingredients, company spokesperson Andrew Day told In-PharmaTechnologist.com. "Exact production runs are still a way off, we are still finalising the details," he said. The company already has well-known brands in the European market, including Aricept, used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Pariet, a PPI used in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders, and Zonegran, for the treatment of epilepsy. It is hoped construction will be completed by early 2009, with the creation of over 250 new jobs - doubling the current workforce at the site. The UK was chosen for the investment because it has a long history of lifescience innovation and the UK government is currently also actively trying to encourage more investment in this field, said Day. "Hatfield is right in the middle of the UK government's newly-announced golden triangle of research - Cambridge, Oxford and London - and this area is also Europe's largest bioscience cluster." More than 450 companies now have a significant R&D or manufacturing presence in the UK, where 224 new drugs were developed in clinical trials in 2003, accounting for at least 40 per cent of the European total. Along with the USA and Japan, the country ranks as one of the world's top three centres for pharmaceutical research, attracting £3.5bn in investment for R&D and manufacturing in 2003.