Italy's Cosmo to build manufacturing plant in Ireland

U.S. drugmakers are not the only ones building plants in Ireland to take advantage of the lower taxes and incentives afforded there. Italian specialty drugmaker Cosmo says that is what it intends to do.

Cosmo, which is based in Lainate, Italy, and registered in Switzerland, said Wednesday that it would ask shareholders to approve a number of maneuvers aimed at improving its tax situation. Among those is to move its management seat to Ireland "where the company plans to build a new manufacturing plant" and benefit from the support of governmental institutions and the "pro-pharma business environment," it said in a statement.

Cosmo, which focuses on gastrointestinal drugs and topical treatments for skin disorders, said the new plant would not have any impact on operations or staffing levels at is existing plants in Italy. It provided no details about the facility it intends to build.

Big Pharma players have been using Ireland as a manufacturing hub for years to derive some tax advantages and take advantage of its generosity with incentives. But some smaller specialty drugmakers have recently been expanding there. U.S. drugmaker Alexion ($ALXN), maker of rare disease drug Soliris, opened a logistics operation in Ireland last year. Then came plans for a vial-filling facility and more recently it announced plans for a $103.4 million investment in a 161,000-square-foot warehouse, packaging and office facility in West Dublin.

Eylea maker Regeneron ($REGN) is spending $300 million to convert a former Dell computer plant in Limerick into a drug manufacturing facility slated to have about 300 workers. It's also looking at adding a fill-finish facility there.

Ireland is under pressure from the U.S. and Europe to curb what they see as tax loopholes that are costing them companies and revenues. According to the New York Times, the government this week said it would phase out some of the tax advantages that have been popular with high tech and pharma companies.

- here's the announcement
- read the NYT story (sub. req.)