Johnson & Johnson is making a big investment in its biologics capacity, this month starting a $350 million project to expand a site in Ireland, a move that will add 200 jobs.
J&J today confirmed the expansion in which its Janssen drug unit will invest more than €300 million to expand its Ringaskiddy, County Cork facility by 19,100 square meters (205,590 square feet). The project is kicking off this month and is expected to take two years to complete. Janssen says it will add 200 jobs to the site when the new facilities are up and running.
In addition to the new manufacturing facility, the project includes expansion of an existing warehouse, laboratory and administration buildings, and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant to accommodate increased volumes.
Once up and running, the new operations will increase capacity of APIs for drugs that treat “multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s Disease,” Kyran Johnson, Janssen’s GM of supply chain in Ireland, said in a statement.
Janssen declined to say what specific products are manufactured at the plant, but its Stelara is approved for treating Crohn's disease and Velcade for treating multiple myeloma. It sells Simponi for treating rheumatoid arthritis. But, of course, it is J&J’s $7 billion global seller, Remicade, which is its biggest seller for treating rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
While Remicade has been hit hard by biosimilar competition in Europe where Merck & Co. has rights to the drug, in the U.S. the drugmaker has so far been able to hold onto most of its market share through "exclusionary contracts" it wrote with payers ahead of entry of biosimilars into the market. In fact, it has been so successful, that Pfizer last month sued J&J, calling the special deals anticompetitive.
As proof, Pfizer said that its biosimilar, Inflectra has generated only $40 million in sales this year, compared to Remicade’s $2.24 billion, even though Pfizer has offered it to payers at a steep discount. J&J has denied that the contracts are anticompetitive and said Pfizer is just unable to compete on price and value.