Pfizer pulls back on Irish expansion plan

Dive Brief:

  • Pfizer has put plans to expand the Grange Castle plant in Dublin on the backburner after abandoning further development of a key cholesterol drug. 
  • The big pharma applied for permission to expand the plant earlier this year, according to a report in the Irish Times. The expansion was set to cost €400 million ($424 million) and would've provided 350 permanent jobs as well as 1,250 construction jobs. 
  • The cancelation of the project followed the company's decision to shut down development of its PCSK9 inhibitor bococizumab, a potential cholesterol-lowering drug, after unexpected side effects were discovered in clinical trials. 

Dive Insight:

"Pfizer recently sought planning permission for the development of the Grange Castle site in Clondalkin to prepare for potential development which was contingent upon the continued successful clinical development of investigational compounds in Pfizer’s mid and late stage pipeline, said Pfizer in a statement to BioPharma Dive. 

Pfizer ditched plans for bococizumab earlier in the month when it announced third quarter earnings. The company drug showed some immunogenicity and injection site issues. But the decision was somewhat expected; Pfizer had been backing away from the class of cholesterol lowering drugs for some time, announcing earlier this year that it was ditching plans for its oral PCSK9 inhibitor.

Other drugs in this class have not been successful due to pushback from payers, a niche patient population and increasing generic competition. Bococizumab was amongst the drugs that were going to be manufactured at the Grange Castle expansion site. 

"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," added the company. 

The company could expand the site in the future and noted that plans for further construction at the site have not been completely ruled out. 

"Current and future development at Grange Castle, which is one of Pfizer’s leading biotechnology sites manufacturing a broad portfolio of biologic medicines and vaccines, is based on a number of commercialized products and pipeline compounds. Expansion in relation to other incoming products will continue as planned involving investment, recruitment and new technology."

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