Pfizer Nixes €400 Million Ireland Expansion and the Promise of 350 Jobs After Drug Setback

Published: Nov 28, 2016

Pfizer Nixes €400 Million Ireland Expansion and the Promise of 350 Jobs After Drug Setback November 28, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

DUBLIN – Following the failure of Pfizer 's late-stage anti-cholesterol drug bococizumab, the company has cancelled plans to spend nearly $500 million to expand its manufacturing facility in Ireland.

The expansion would have added an additional 350 jobs and would also have provided more than 1,000 temporary construction jobs, according to The Independent of Ireland.

Earlier this month, Pfizer abandoned bococizumab, a PCSK9 inhibitor, after the company discovered the drug did not lower cholesterol over a long period of time as previously expected. Additionally, patients were showing more of an immune response than predicted and patients were also experiencing more side effects. If bococizumab was successful, analysts had predicted the drug could have generated about $1 billion in annual revenue.

While Pfizer abandoned bococizumab, Sanofi and Amgen , the maker of two approved PCSK9 inhibitors, have seen their drugs struggle to generate the hoped-for revenue. The problem, in part, is due to the high cost of the PCSK9 inhibitors, particularly compared to traditional statins, which have a cost of about $50 per month.

Following Pfizer’s dropping of bococizumab, the company is scaling back, which includes cancelling the expansion of the Grange Castle project—a project that had been in the works for more than a year, the Irish Times reported. Pfizer intended to use the Irish plant as a manufacturing center for bococizumab, the Times said. In its planning with Dublin officials, Pfizer said the expansion was “contingent upon the continued successful clinical development of investigational compounds in Pfizer’s mid- and late-stage pipeline,” the Times reported.

The Grange Castle site is currently used to manufacture its blockbuster arthritis drug Enbrel and pneumococcal vaccine Prevenar. The planned expansion would have added more than 35,000 square feet to the facility, the Independent said. While the massive expansion at the site was terminated, Pfizer did indicate that a smaller expansion could take place in Dublin sometime next year, the Times said.

“Following the decision to discontinue the development of bococizumab, part of the potential expansion for which the planning permission was sought will not now go ahead,” a Pfizer spokesperson told The Times. “Expansion in relation to other incoming products will continue as planned, involving investment, recruitment and new technology.”

Pfizer is in the midst of a restructuring that could see the company divide itself into multiple entities. Ultimately Pfizer could be comprised of three units—Global Innovation Products (GIP) business, and Vaccines Oncology and Consumer (VOC) business.

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