Regeneron preparing for a plant expansion and a fill-finish facility in Ireland

Rapidly growing drugmaker Regeneron ($REGN) is just now starting work on a new manufacturing plant in Limerick, Ireland, that it expects to manufacture drugs that are currently in its pipeline. But already the Tarrytown, NY-based drugmaker is talking about an expansion and building a fill-and-finish plant nearby, at least according to Ireland's minister of finance.

Minister Michael Noonan told the Limerick-Shannon Rotary Club that in addition to the 300 jobs already slated for the manufacturing plant, Regeneron executives indicated their intent to add a second phase that might require another 300 workers, plus a fill-and-finish facility that would employ 200 more, according to the Limerick Leader. In just a few years, the U.S. drugmaker could have 800 people working in Ireland, he told the group. He said Regeneron officials discussed their plans when he met with them last month in New York.

"They have very strong plans for development as well and I don't mean promises; I mean plans gone beyond the point of no return that will deliver another 400 jobs or so," Noonan said.

The drugmaker is spending about $300 million to convert a 400,000-square-foot former Dell computer plant in Limerick into its first manufacturing facility outside of the U.S. It has said it will need about 185 employees by 2015 and up to 300 total a year later. Officials acknowledged during an earnings call last month that one attraction of building a new plant in Ireland is the tax benefits that come with having manufacturing and some intellectual assets there.

Regeneron has seen global sales of its eye treatment Eylea boom in the last couple of years but has said the plant in Ireland is needed for production of products in its pipeline. Noonan said he was told that Regeneron is planning on manufacturing a new arthritis drug and a cholesterol-lowering drug at the Limerick facility. Regeneron and French drugmaker Sanofi ($SNY) are partnered on both of those drug candidates, and both are in Phase III trials.

- read the Limerick Leader story