Eli Lilly to sell PR plant due to patent expirations and shifting portfolio

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Eli Lilly plans to close and sell one its Guayama, Puerto Rico plant
Eli Lilly plans to close and sell one its Guayama, Puerto Rico plant

Related tags Puerto rico Eli lilly and company Pharmaceutical drug

Eli Lilly is set to close one of its Puerto Rican facilities as patent expirations and a shifting portfolio reduce its need for capacity.

The Guayama, Puerto Rico active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and dry powder manufacturing facility will halt production at the end of 2015 and be put on the market, Eli Lilly announced after assessing its manufacturing network.

According to SVP of Global API and Dry Products Manufacturing, Paul Ahern, “the utilisation of the site has been impacted by patent expirations on the medicines produced there this”​ which has been furthered affected by “a growing insulin and biologics portfolio, coupled with a less capacity-intensive small molecule portfolio.” 

Puerto Rico Pullout?

The news follows similar plans by fellow Big Pharma firms Pfizer and Merck & Co​. which both announced intentions to close API facilities in Puerto Rico last year, citing patent loss and over-capacity.

The Caribbean island is also in the middle of an economic crisis, with a debt load of over $70bn​ but earlier this year, local business advocacy group PRIDCO - the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company – told this publication that “pharma firms are continuing to grow in Puerto Rico,”​ citing a $48m investment and creation of 300 jobs by Actavis​ in June.

“Although companies like Merck and Pfizer have announced the consolidation of certain global operations, including facilities in Puerto Rico, they maintain a significant presence in the island,” Antonio Medina Comas, Executive Director of PRIDCO told in-Pharmatechnologist.com at the time.

“PRIDCO remains confident that on-going negotiations with other companies will continue to result in additional opportunities within this segment.”

Insulin investment

Lilly has also said it will continue to invest in Puerto Rico, with the approximately 100 full-time employees who currently work at the Guayama site being offered roles at the nearby Carolina plant, a site Lilly says it continues to invest in.

“Our employees at Guayama have demonstrated strong, sustained performance throughout the years and have produced lifesaving medicines for patients around the world,”​ Maria Crowe, president for Lilly's Global Manufacturing Operations said last week. “For nearly 50 years, Puerto Rico has served as a major manufacturing location for Lilly, and it will remain so in the future.”

Carolina makes the fast acting insulin analog Humalog and has had several investments over the past twelve months​, though received a US FDA Warning Letter in February 2010​ after a specific deviation caused Lyspro Insulin Zinc Crystals to be adulterated. The plant is yet to have received a close-out letter.

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