Pfizer plans Irish process lab, shelves SF unit and sells skin drugs to Graceway

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pfizer

Pfizer will invest €11m ($15.3m) in a new kilo technology R&D laboratory at its API manufacturing facility in Ringaskiddy, Ireland.

The lab, which will be housed in the site’s existing process development centre, will develop manufacturing technologies and protocols for application at other Pfizer production sites around the world.

Pfizer Ireland spokesperson Tara Delany told in-PharmaTechnologist that the “[investment] demonstrates a clear commitment by Pfizer to growing the R&D capability at the Centre as an integral part of our corporate R&D strategy.”

She explained that the unit, which will be operational before the end of the year, will focus on the development of “less costly and more efficient second generation processes [for] existing products​.”

The investment, which is supported by the Irish Development Agency (IDA), will provide some reassurance of Pfizer’s commitment to Ireland’s manufacturing sector after the sale of its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to Hovione in April.

It will also help ease specific concerns about the Ringaskiddy site’s future given that, at present, its primary role is to make the API for its cholesterol drug Lipitor, which is due to lose patent protection over the next few years.

In a press statement Paul Duffy, VP of Pfizer’s manufacturing operations in Ireland, told RTE​ that investment is based on the sites’ track-record of industrial research and technical competence.

Halts plans for US biotech R&D centre

Shortly after the Irish investment was announced Pfizer reported that it has shelved plans to set up a 105,000 sq ft biotechnology research unit at the University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) Mission Bay Campus.

Spokeswoman Joan Campion told the San Francisco Chronicle​ the firm is "in discussions now with the landlord to exit the lease," explaining that it makes more sense to keep its 100 Bay Area employees at Rinat Neuroscience, the South San Francisco start-up it acquired in 2006.

Sells three skin drugs to Graceway

In yet more Pfizer news, the US drug giant announced that it has sold rights to three developmental dermatology drugs to fellow US firm Graceway Pharmaceuticals.

The candidate drugs in question, stearoyl CoA desaturase 1, cholesterol-acyltransferase and activin-like kinase 5 are being developed to treat a variety of skin conditions.

Pfizer will continue to develop the three compounds, one of which is already in Phase II trials, on Graceway’s behalf on a contractual basis under a master services and supply agreement.

The world leading drugmaker said the deal, further terms of which have not been disclosed, is another example of its ongoing efforts to divest research programmes that are not essential to its future development plans.

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