Eli Lilly plans €400m Irish plant that will create 800 jobs

Eli Lilly has said it is seeking permission to build a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Ireland that will be used to produce active ingredients for its biologic medicines, including its new Alzheimer’s candidates.

The pharma group has said the total investment in the proposed facility in Limerick would be more than €400 million ($445 million), and could create 300 jobs at the plant itself, with another 500 positions required while it is under construction.

The plans are due to be submitted to Limerick City and County Council in the coming weeks, and detail a facility located at Raheen Business Park near Shannon Airport, according to an Irish Examiner report.

The plant will be used to “support increased demand for existing Lilly products and play a key role in bringing Lilly’s robust clinical pipeline…to patients around the world,” said the IDA Ireland, the country’s economic development agency.

That includes Lilly’s Alzheimer’s candidates, currently headed by amyloid-targeting drug donanemab which was filed for FDA approval in the IUS last October.

The announcement is another coup for Ireland’s booming biopharma sector, which has almost doubled in size over the last decade, with nearly 40,000 employees in 2020, and is the third largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world.

Lilly’s announcement follows a series of other projects in 2021, including a $100 million investment by Amgen in a new vial filling facility line at its facility in Dun Laoghaire, and AstraZeneca’s $360 million new-build facility for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in Dublin, creating 100 jobs.

Last year also saw smaller investments by Japanese drugmaker Takeda, injectable drugs specialist West Pharmaceutical Services, veterinary pharma group Zoetis, and biotechs Repligen and Horizon Therapeutics, amongst others.

Lilly’s plan – if approved – will create new jobs for highly skilled “engineers, scientists, and operations personnel” who will use “the latest biologics manufacturing technology to produce lifechanging treatments that patients need to address health challenges,” said IDA Ireland.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar said the new announcement is “fantastic news for Limerick and indeed the entire [Mid-West] region.”

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