Regeneron doubles down on plant project in Ireland

Landmark at Eastview research campus in Tarrytown, NY

A couple of years ago, U.S.-based Regeneron said it would turn a former Dell computer plant in Ireland into its production operation outside of the U.S. But with the company booming, what started as a $300 million project needing 300 workers has morphed into a $650 million project that will require 500.

The Ireland Development Authority (IDA), which is helping support the project, announced today that Regeneron intends to hire 200 more people and spend another $350 million. It said the facility will be the largest biopharma plant in the country when it is complete at the end of 2017.

Regeneron ($REGN) picked up the 400,000-square-foot former Dell computer plant in Limerick in 2013, attracted in part by the tax benefits of operating in Ireland. Initially, it said it would invest about $300 million to retrofit the facility and would need about 185 employees by 2015 and up to 300 total a year later.

The maker of the fast-selling eye drug Eylea said when it first announced its plans that it would need the extra capacity for production of products in its pipeline. It recently got approval for one of those, Praluent, one of a new class of PCSK9 cholesterol drugs which it developed with Sanofi ($SNY). It has other drugs in the works with Sanofi, like sarilumab, an antibody for rheumatoid arthritis that is winding its way to an FDA decision. It is also working on anti-inflammatory dupilumab, which in Phase III.

"With a growing portfolio of marketed medicines and an innovative pipeline rooted in cutting-edge science and technology, Regeneron is one of the fastest-growing global biopharmaceutical companies," Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer said in a statement. He said Ireland is figuring prominently into that growth.

To support that pipeline work, the drugmaker is also rapidly expanding at its campus in New York. It expects to have added 1,000 employees there this year, bringing the headcount to 4,000, from 3,000 at the end of 2014 and 2,300 at the end of 2013. To house all of those people it has added 116,200 square feet of office/lab space to its lease at the Landmark at Eastview research campus in Tarrytown, NY, about 30 minutes from Manhattan. That boosts its campus to 1.1 million square feet.

- here's the IDA release