US biopharma giant has extended its Cork facility amid rising global demand for pioneering treatments
US biopharmaceuticals giant BioMarin is considering building a second manufacturing plant in Ireland pending approval of new drugs.
The news emerged yesterday as the company marked the opening of a major extension of its Shanbally plant in Cork, its only manufacturing facility outside the US.
The rapid expansion of the plant, which opened in 2011 with just 12 staff and which now employs 365, follows a rise in global demand for BioMarin therapies which treat rare genetic life-limiting diseases that mostly affect children.
Up to 50 staff are set to be hired over the coming months with the plant poised to make therapies that will deliver $1.5bn (€1.28bn) in revenue for the firm.
Developed over the last two years, the expansion includes a larger warehouse, new administration and utilities offices, a canteen, and conference facilities.
A wastewater treatment plant will be installed on the 20-acre site later this year, and three new lab expansions are due to be completed before the end of next year.
The company has six approved products that are the only drugs available on the market today for the diseases they treat. Two of the drugs are made in Cork.
Brineura is an enzyme replacement therapy for CLN2, an ultra-rare form of the rapidly progressing brain disorder, Battens Disease.
Vimizim is the only enzyme replacement therapy to treat Morquio A, another ultra-rare condition which affects a cell’s ability to break down waste products.
BioMarin’s chairman and CEO, Jean-Jacques Bienaimé, said the company has several pioneering treatments in the pipeline.
Clinical trials of BMN 270, a gene therapy treatment for the genetic blood clotting disease Hemophilia A, are at an advanced stage with hopes it will receive the various regulatory approvals in 2019.
Results from initial clinical trials of a treatment called Vosoritide (BMN 111) for achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, have also been very positive.
Founded in 1997, BioMarin employs 2,400 worldwide, with 365 based in Cork and 67 in Dublin. Mr Bienamie said Ireland has proved to be an ideal locationand if the new treatments are approved, the company will need up to two more manufacturing facilities.
“The team at Shanbally has enabled us to accommodate our growing commercial portfolio and advancing clinical programmes,” he said. “As we continue to grow in Shanbally, we are looking to recruit the best and brightest in a variety of disciplines to help us continue our inspiring work for patients.”
Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Simon Coveney, said the State will continue to provide the certainty required for investment by such companies. “BioMarin is a prime example of the hi-tech life sciences companies that this area of Cork has a reputation for,” he said.
The Shanbally plant was certified by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, on behalf of the European Medicines Agency, earlier this year. It was subsequently licensed for commercial supply by the US FDA in May for a range of activities, including bulk production, quality control testing, and distribution.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved