Jazz is investing up to $68M to build its first manufacturing facility

Ireland's Jazz Pharmaceuticals ($JAZZ), which has been buying up some new drug assets, has decided it will spend some money on manufacturing as well. It is building its first manufacturing facility there, adding to a string of plant projects in that country.

The specialty drugmaker will invest €45 million to €50 million ($60 million to $68 million) to build the 55,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 17-acre site in Monksland, County Roscommon, which is about 75 miles east of its Dublin headquarters. It officially kicked off construction Monday, and the plant is slated to be completed in 2016. The company is getting some financial assistance from the government for the plant, which will employ about 50 when production begins.

Jazz moved to Ireland from Palo Alto, CA, after its 2011 merger with Azur Pharma to take advantage of the country's low taxes, and the drugmaker has been on an expansion spree. In December, it agreed to pay $1 billion to buy Italy-based Gentium ($GENT), which has the EU-approved orphan drug, Defitelio. In January, it said it would lay out up to $397 million more in upfront and milestone payments to get Aerial BioPharma's promising drug for narcolepsy, a treatment area with which it has experience.

Ireland has had its share of plant closures in the last few years as drugmakers have retrenched in the face of generic competition, but it has reaped a number of plant projects in recent months. U.S. drugmaker Regeneron ($REGN) is buying an empty Dell computer plant in Limerick and will spend about $300 million to ready the 400,000-square-foot facility for production. The project is also slated to open in 2016 with about 300 jobs. Like the Jazz project, Regeneron got some help through Ireland's Department of Jobs.

U.S. drugmaker Alexion ($ALXN) is buying a couple of unused buildings at a complex in Athlone from Irish drugmaker Alkermes ($ALKS) and will convert them into a vial-filling operation with about 40 workers. That deal provides Alkermes with some cash to help with its own expansion plans to spend €20 million over three years to build up its R&D and manufacturing in Athlone.

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