Generics maker Amneal revamping former J&J plant in Ireland

U.S.-based generics drugmaker Amneal Pharmaceuticals will recycle a plant in Ireland that Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) abandoned some years ago, with plans to have about 300 workers when it reopens in a few years. The move comes as the 15-year-old company works its way up the ladder of generics makers.

The company put out the word that it had bought the 200,000-square-foot facility in Tipperary from a Singapore equity fund but was mum on the price or how much it will invest in the facility. It said the project is being supported by the Foreign Direct Investment agency IDA Ireland, which often provides grants to draw projects.

J&J had manufactured heart stents at the plant but closed it in 2011 and laid off about 130 workers. Amneal intends to use it for R&D and production of metered dose and dry powder inhalers, as well as biosimilars. Amneal expects to hire an estimated 250 to 300 employees at full build-out.

"Our new Ireland facility is critical to Amneal's long-term global growth, in Europe, the U.S. and throughout the world," explained Chintu Patel, Amneal co-CEO and co-chairman.

Those global aspirations included the company's acquisition in April of the generics business of Actavis in Australia, also for an undisclosed sum. Actavis, which has since changed its name to Allergan ($AGN) after buying that company, is moving away from generics and focusing on brands. Last week it agreed to sell Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) the rest of its generics operations in a cash and stock deal valued at $40.5 billion.

Amneal was started by brothers Chirag Patel and Chintu Patel in 2002, and has been built up through a series of acquisitions. It has manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and India. In 2012, Amneal invested $50 million to expand its facility on Long Island, NY, to 443,000 square feet from 121,000 square feet. The company claims to now be the seventh-largest generics maker by volume.

- here's the release