Pfizer makes it official, it has reversed its decision to close Irish Lipitor plant

Pfizer's Little Island facility--Courtesy of Google

Almost two years after announcing it would close a Lipitor-producing plant in Cork County, Ireland, Pfizer ($PFE) has officially said it will keep the plant operational. It turns out there is enough demand around the world for its off-patent cholesterol drug for the plant to remain open "for the foreseeable future."

The drugmaker announced its plan to consolidate its manufacturing in Ireland in May 2013, expecting to be fully out of the Little Island plant by August 2014. However, due to the "unexpected increase" in Lipitor demand, it kept the plant running; the closure was delayed and now canceled.

The decision is largely driven by Lipitor market demand, but the plant's "commitment and continued excellence in the manufacturing fundamentals--Safety, Quality, Supply and Cost--was also a factor," said Pfizer spokesperson Caoimhe Graham.

Pfizer is among the largest of drug manufacturers in Ireland, many of which are drawn there by attractive tax rates and incentives. In recent years, Cosmo Pharmaceutical, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Alexion ($ALXN) and Regeneron ($REGN) have all announced manufacturing projects in the country. Last year, Pfizer opened a $30 million facility in Ringaskiddy, Cork County, to make drugs for clinical trials.

In February, the Independent reported that the API for Pfizer's erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, is also made at a facility in Cork County, and while that drug's sales have not been as robust as Lipitor's, there are no plans to reduce work at the facility that makes it.

- here's the release