On the heels of a big expansion pledge in Ireland, Pfizer is flying another heap of cash east into continental Europe.
Friday, the company said it would plug 1.2 billion euros into its manufacturing site in Puurs, Belgium, just one day after plotting an identical outlay in Dublin. In Belgium, where the expansion will occur over the next three years, some projects have already been started, while others are scheduled to begin in early 2023, Pfizer said in a local press release (Dutch).
The project is also expected to create 250 new jobs. Pfizer’s Puurs head count has already grown from 2,800 to 4,500 staffers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company pointed out.
As with Pfizer’s site in Ireland, the company’s Puurs campus forms part of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine production network. Pfizer says its latest blockbuster investment marks the biggest monetary commitment at the site yet.
The Puurs expansion will specifically play out across three areas: production capacity, cold storage and packaging. A chunk of Pfizer’s investment has been set aside to build and equip the company’s new Isolator Facility Center, which will include a pair of production modules for additional filling capacity.
Pfizer is also building a flexible freezer warehouse with multiple modules, and it’s “once again” expanding its center for secondary packaging, which is gaining another 16 packaging cabins.
The company’s European manufacturing expansion—both in Belgium and Ireland—is “all aligned” with the company’s pipeline growth, Pfizer’s chief global supply officer Mike McDermott told Reuters this week.
The move seems designed, in part, to parry sliding COVID-19 vaccine revenues, which have hit pandemic players of all shapes and sizes in 2022.
But aside from its BioNTech-partnered mRNA shot Comirnaty, Pfizer is looking to push out more than a dozen new medicines over the next year and a half, Reuters points out.
"Our portfolio is strong and requires an expansion of our network to accommodate these new products that will really make an impact," McDermott said of the company’s pipeline.
In its Belgian press release, meanwhile, Pfizer didn’t go into detail about the products it would make in Puurs.
In Ireland, the company says it produces therapies for arthritis, inflammation, cancer, infections, hemophilia, pain and stroke.
Pfizer’s expansion in Dublin—also backed by 1.2 billion euros—is expected to create up to 500 new jobs and double biologic drug substance capacity by 2027.
At the moment, the Belgian expansion appears to be ahead of its Irish counterpart, which the company said Thursday was still in the preliminary design phase. At the Dublin site, Pfizer aims to begin work in 2024, with the goal to complete the project within the next five years.