Tue, 31 Jan 2023

NEW YORK CITY, New York: Pfizer is set to invest more than $2.5 billion in its drug manufacturing operations in Belgium and Ireland, as they prepare to launch new products.

Pfizer will spend more than $1.26 billion to expand its Puurs, Belgium, manufacturing site, matching the investment at its Dublin, Ireland, site.

In Belgium, some new products are already being manufactured, while others will begin early next year, Pfizer said in a press release. At the plant in Ireland, expansion is expected to begin in 2024 and to be completed in 2027, the company said.

"It is all aligned with the growth of our pipeline," Pfizer Chief Global Supply Officer Mike McDermott told Reuters.

"If you project out the capacity modeling for these two sites ... you'll find a gap in our ability to serve that (growth). So this is proactive investment," he said this week.

The sizeable investment and creation of jobs in Europe comes at a critical time for the region, as companies struggle with soaring costs of energy, labour, raw materials and credit, fueling worries over a recession.

Pfizer hopes to introduce as many as 19 new medicines over the next 18 months, including treatments for ulcerative colitis and migraines, as well as its vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus.

"Our portfolio is strong and requires an expansion of our network to accommodate these new products that will really make an impact," McDermott said.

The new products produced at the plants will cover various therapeutic areas, including rare diseases, inflammation and immunology, he said.

The expansion in Ireland will add some 400 to 500 jobs and allow Pfizer to double the amount of drug products it manufactures at the site, which produces material for complex biologic drugs and vaccines.

In Belgium, Pfizer is expanding the Puurs site's capacity to finalize and bottle doses of drugs. It is also expanding its packaging and cold storage capabilities there. The new projects will result in an additional 250 jobs at the Belgian plant.

Pfizer has also been spending significantly to expand its manufacturing capacity in the United States.

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