€45m pharma expansion in doubt

A planned €45 million expansion of Roche’s Irish production plant is in doubt after the pharmaceutical giant abandoned trials for a new potential blockbuster drug.

Preparatory work was well advanced and planning permission already secured by Roche at its plant in Clarecastle, Co Clare, for the facility’s expansion to cater for the production of a new “good cholesterol” drug — Dalcetrapib — to combat heart disease.

The expansion was anticipated to result in further jobs at the plant where 224 are employed.

However, arising from results of a late-stage trial, Swiss firm, Roche has decided to abandon the trials for the planned drug “due to a lack of clinically meaningful efficacy”.

Sven Hauptmann, managing director of Roche Ireland, said: “This is disappointing news for patients and for the many people who have worked to prepare our site for the production of Dalcetrapib. We have spoken to our staff to inform them of this development.

“We appreciate the uncertainty this news causes and we are very aware of the concerns of our employees and contractors. We will analyse the implications of the Dalcetrapib outcome and determine any impacts.”

He said the focus for the site was to continue supplying products to patients, and that the company would “plan and execute a timely phase-out of Dalcetrapib activities”.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said producing Dalcetrapib would have

involved an initial €45m investment at Clarecastle with about €20m already invested.

He said: “I had asked An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to come to Clarecastle in June for a sod-turning ceremony for the production building for the new drug.

“The news about Dalcetrapib is very disappointing.”

He said the production of the drug could have created a lot of direct jobs as well as spin-off benefits for the community.

The most recent filings for Roche Ireland show that pre-tax losses at the firm increased by almost four-fold in 2010 to €12.3m after revenues dipped by 9.5% from €74.5m to €67.4m.

Globally, Roche states that its pipeline remains robust with 23 positive late-stage clinical trials reporting over the past 16 months.


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