Alexion Plans New $515 M Biologics Mfg in Ireland

To support production of its lead commercial product, Soloris (eculizumab), Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company focusing on developing treatments for rare diseases, has announced a EUR 450 million ($515 million) expansion of it Irish operations for a new biologics manufacturing facility. The expansion adds to the company’s ongoing expansion of vial fill-finish and global supply chain operations in Ireland. The proposed expansion follows the announcement by the company earlier this month to acquire Synageva, a company specializing in rare diseases, for $8.4 billion.

Specifically, the company announced plans to build a new 20,000-square-meter biologics manufacturing facility in Alexion's College Park site in Blanchardstown, Ireland, the company’s first biologics manufacturing facility outside the United States; Alexion is headquartered in Cheshire, Connecticut. The project is expected to create approximately 200 additional full-time jobs on completion, which will bring Alexion's total workforce in Ireland to almost 500 employees. The company is seeking planning permission approval, and if granted permission, the project is expected to take four years to complete.

Since first entering Ireland in 2013, Alexion has invested EUR 130 million ($149 million) in two facilities: a vial fill-finish facility in Athlone (EUR 55 million ($63 million)) and a global supply chain facility (EUR 75 million ($86 million)) at College Park. Phase I of the College Park facility, comprising global supply chain headquarters, laboratories, packaging, and warehousing operations is expected to be operational by year-end. Approximately 560 construction workers are involved in the development of the current Athlone and College Park projects. The development of Athlone and Phase 1 at College Park will see approximately 300 people employed directly by Alexion by the end of 2016. 

The new facility will support production of Soliris, which had 2014 sales of $599 million. The drug, launched in 2007, is indicated for two indications: paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS),two ultra-rare disorders caused by chronic uncontrolled complement activation.  

The acquisition of Synageva is expected to close mid-2015, would add to Alexion’s rare-disease drug portfolio. Synageva’s lead clinical prduct is Kanuma (sebelipase alfa), an enzyme-replacement therapy for lysosomal acid lipase deficiency (LALD). LAL D is caused by genetic mutations that result in decreased LAL enzyme activity in the lysosomes across multiple body tissues. This leads to the buildup of fatty material in the liver, blood vessel walls and other tissues.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by both companies' boards of directors, and is valued at approximately $8.4 billion net of Synageva's cash. Alexion expects to achieve annual cost synergies starting this year and growing to at least $150 million in 2017.

Source: IDA Ireland (Alexion expansion) and Alexion (acquisition)

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