Lilly CEO says for some products Ireland offers more than Asia

Eli Lilly ($LLY) CEO John Lechleiter really likes what the company is getting for its $1 billion in investments in Kinsale, Ireland. Lilly has started work on its second manufacturing plant there and during a recent visit Lechleiter said Kinsale will become the focal point of new products.

"We intend to have Kinsale as our primary launch site for all our new products," Lechleiter told the Irish Examiner.

In February, Lilly announced that it was building a $442 million, 240,000-square-foot commercialization and manufacturing facility, which will employ about 200 people when it is operational in 2016. In 2010, it completed a €300 million ($368.6 million) facility. The company has said that together the two plants are "intended to ensure manufacturing capacity for Lilly's biotech pipeline."

As margins have slimmed in the industry, companies are looking to site new manufacturing where it will get the most bang for its buck, often in Asia where costs can be lower and markets are growing. But with the more sophisticated biologics in mind, Lechleiter waved the advantages of Asia aside, GEN reports. 

In his tabulation of Ireland's assets, Lechleiter included the workforce, the universities and Ireland's Industrial Development Agency. Those have allowed the company to move the work in Ireland up the food chain from small molecule drugs to biologics. There is more to come given the advances in sequencing the human genome and a better understanding of the biology underlying many diseases, he said.

"All these things, I think, add up and augur well for a renaissance in productivity for the advent of new medicines in the years ahead."

Lilly is not alone in liking what Ireland offers the pharmaceutical industry. In October, the Sanofi ($SNY) unit Genzyme unveiled a $207 million plant expansion in Waterford.

- read the Irish Examiner story
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