Chinese pharma company to set up base in Louth

Ireland has been chosen by biomanufacturing company WuXi Biologics as it seeks to establish a foothold in Europe for its first manufacturing site outside of China. At a 26-hectare campus adjacent to the M1 motorway, it will employ 400 people in what is currently an IDA greenfield site at Mullagharlin, Dundalk.

The company will establish a 325m biologics drug substance manufacturing facility and chief executive officer Dr Chris Chen said: “We want to build a global manufacturing network and this is the start.” Wuxi Biologics’ decision that it was planning to develop a manufacturing facility at Mullagharlin near Dundalk was hailed as a victory for the border county yesterday.

The company develops and manufactures drugs from biological sources. It is part of Wuxi Apptec group, founded by Ge Li. The group is involved in pharmaceutical and technical businesses, and employs more than 18,000 people worldwide.

The 26-hectare plant in Dundalk is being built on an IDA greenfield site. It will be Wuxi’s first outside of China, and is expected to employ 700 during construction and 400 when complete.

Chris Chen, chief executive of Wuxi Biologics said that the company was excited about its first international site, which will give it a foothold in Europe.

“This is the start and a critical part of our global biomanufacturing network to ensure that biologics are manufactured to the highest quality,” he said. “We are committed to Ireland and will work with all local partners to build this next generation biomanufacturing facility.”

Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the IDA, said that the investment decision marks a significant win both for Ireland and for the region.

He added that Wuxi Biologics “is a strong addition to Ireland’s growing cluster of next-generation biopharmaceutical companies”, and added that its presence here would likely help attract other similar businesses.

“The company has shown great commitment to Ireland with this project which represents an investment of ¤325 million,” he said.

Leo Varadkar said that the investment marked “the start of something special” which would lead to the creation of a “factory of the future” in the border county. “It’s the first sizable greenfield project from China in the pharma sector and I am delighted to see it located in Dundalk,” the taoiseach said.

“It’s also the latest in a number of investments in this town which has become a hub for a range of sectors [and hosts] National Pen, Paypal and Xerox, to name just a few.”

Meanwhile more than 100 jobs will be created as PCI Pharma Services launches its new contained packaging facility in Co Louth. The primary and secondary packaging of highly potent products will be carried out at the site in Drogheda.

PCI’s new facility will lead to more than 70 new jobs over the next five years. Since the pharmaceutical outsourcing services provider’s acquisition of Millmount Healthcare in 2017, the team has expanded by around 30 people.

A further 50 new jobs will be created at PCI’s facility in Stamullen, Co. Meath.

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