Pfizer invests €11m in new R&D lab in Cork


6 Jul 2009

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Cork received a welcome boost today with the news that one of the world’s largest biopharma companies Pfizer is to invest €11m in a new cutting-edge lab at its Ringaskiddy site.

The company is to invest over €11m in the establishment of an R&D Kilo Technology Laboratory with the support of Government through IDA Ireland.

The new laboratory will be a dedicated R&D facility within the Process Development Centre (PDC) at the site and will research, develop and create new manufacturing technology for more efficient production processes for Pfizer’s facilities around the world.

A new state-of-the-art development facility incorporating the PDC early stage laboratory and the new Kilo laboratory is currently under construction.

Pfizer aims to utilise the new manufacturing technology of continuous processing involving chemistry in a pipe and continuous extraction.

Continuous processing technology has been developed for other industries but Pfizer is undertaking leading-edge development for the pharmaceutical industry which has the potential to revolutionise the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and greatly reduce the associated costs of production.

“This is a highly strategic project for the pharmaceutical industry and will significantly enhance Ireland’s image as a location for innovative R&D,” the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan TD explained at the announcement.

“In addition, as it involves the co-location of substantial R&D and manufacturing it will be a leading example to other global companies of what can be achieved in Ireland.

“This investment is excellent news for the Cork site as the technology will allow Pfizer to perform specific chemistries that would not otherwise be achievable in standard manufacturing. In doing so, it will make Ireland a centre-of-excellence and a key Pfizer location for further development of this technology.

“It will also mean a significant advance in technical innovation for both the Irish operation and for the parent company and is a major extension of the Cork site’s corporate mandate,” Coughlan added.

This year Pfizer is celebrating 40 years in Ireland. Its Ringaskiddy site, employing over 550 people, consists of four API (bulk pharmaceutical) plants producing a range of material for many of Pfizer’s major products.

All of the Lipitor API in the world and 70pc of all Lipitor tablets are produced in Cork by Pfizer, which has eight different operations in Ireland employing a total of 2,000 people.

“Pfizer in Ireland has a proven track record in relation to process improvement and optimisation,” explained Dr Paul Duffy, vice-president Pfizer Manufacturing Ireland/Singapore.

“The decision to invest in the Cork PDC was based on demonstrated technical competence with similar projects and the successful completion of a number of R&D programmes.

“Last year globally Pfizer spent US$7.9bn on research and development. This decision 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 which is focusing on the development of new, innovative products and developing less costly and more efficient second-generation processes of existing products,” Duffy added.

By John Kennedy