The new facility will house activities previously carried out at the firm's other Dublin site, which has reached maximum capacity and is no longer able to meet manufacturing requirements. Formal planning application for the 20-acre site with 200,000 sq. ft of buildings will be submitted by the end of this month, with construction due to be completed by the end of 2008 and operations anticipated to begin in early 2009. The new plant will have a fill and finish facility along with other logistical and warehousing support structures, and will also have space to accommodate future expansion plans involving a new tabletting facility. Plans for the old site have yet to be formally decided, but it is situated on the Sandyford Industrial Estate south of Dublin which is a highly sought after patch, already housing the offices of Microsoft Ireland. Gilead, headquartered in the US, uses its Irish operations for the manufacture, packaging and distribution of the company's products and the supply of anti-HIV medications to developing countries. Major products for the company include Atripla (efavirenz, emtricitabine, tenofovir), the only once-daily single tablet regimen for HIV-1 infection, Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) and Viread (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) - all for the treatment of HIV infections. The company generated total revenues of $3.03bn (€2.26bn) in 2006. The firm will be in good company on the spot it has chosen for its new facility, the Grange Castle Business Park having specifically been designed to attract biotech and biopharma firms following an €80m investment by South Dublin County Council, and fast becoming a biotech hub for the region. The park is already home to other major pharmaceutical firms, including Wyeth who has established one of the world's largest integrated biotechnology campuses on the site at a cost of €1.8bn, used for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Japanese firm Takeda has also invested €80m in facilities at the same site. Gilead's further investment in its Irish operations is good news for the region, which has been suffering a little instability of late as the mixed fortunes of pharma firms in the area have caused some companies to cut down their operations while other boost their Irish investments. Despite Ireland offering one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, the increasing pressure from patent expiries along with challenges from generic products and pricing competition from cheaper global locations such as Asia, have forced some pharmaceutical firms to consolidate their operations leading to job cuts and plant closures. However, the news hasn't been all bleak for Ireland, with several major pharmas increasing their investment in their Irish operations. Only last month, for example, there were reports of a €250m investment by GlaxoSmithKline in its Currabinny plant to enable production of the active ingredient in the company's recently approved breast cancer drug, Tykerb (lapatinib). "We are operating in a highly competitive global environment for leading biopharmaceutical investment of this kind," said Micheál Martin, Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, on news of Gilead's plans. "A key element of IDA [Industrial Development Agency] Ireland's strategy is a focus on winning new inward investment where the activities are at the high quality end of the business value chain…Gilead Sciences will make a superb addition to the leading global biopharmaceutical companies already located [at Grange Castle]." PharmaChemical Ireland, a group representing the pharmaceutical and chemicals industry in Ireland, valued pharmaceutical and chemical exports at over €40bn last year, with the sector having invested over €12bn in capital since arriving in Ireland in the late 1960s. Nine out of the ten top pharmaceutical companies in the world have operations in Ireland, according to the group.