Hovione has agreed to acquire Pfizer's Loughbeg Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) site in Cork, Ireland. This site manufactures intermediates for Lipitor's API. The deal is scheduled to be completed by early April 2009. Hovione Cork will employ 70-80 staff. During the next two years, Hovione will transfer in products from its Loures, Portugal site and validate processes for new compounds in expectation of drug approval. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed but Hovione will continue to provide manufacturing services for Pfizer.
The plant is multi-purpose and is able to address a large number of specialized chemistries such as hydrogenation and low temperature chemistry. The Cork site also provides Hovione with a new, $85 million capability to produce spray-dried formulations.
The site has had a number of owners, starting in 1984 with Angus Fine Chemicals, then Hickson & Welch, Warner Lambert, Pfizer and now Hovione. In the last 10 years Pfizer has invested several hundred million dollars in plant and equipment there, making it a modern, well equipped site, meeting the highest standards in the industry, according to a Hovione statement.
"We made clinical trial materials for more than 40 drug candidates last year. We have been investing heavily in R&D for more than six years and now have a strong development pipeline but have not invested in manufacturing assets since 2001, so it was time that we expanded our manufacturing capacity," said said Miguel Calado, Hovione's chief financial officer. "This site offers everything that our customers might want: large scale capacity, the highest standards, in a location where tax benefits are available to them and a well trained, innovative workforce."
Discussing the decision to invest in Ireland when many analysts point to China as the trend of the future, Hovione chief executive officer Guy Villax remarked, "We have been manufacturing in China for over 25 years — we know very well what China can do for the Pharma industry, but we also know what it can't do — and it is for those reasons that we are now in Cork. The Cork site, the New Jersey Technology Transfer Centre, Loures in Portugal and Taizhou and Macau in China now provide Hovione with the right range of capabilities in the correct geographies - every site meets FDA requirements for APIs but every site is suited to a different and well defined mission."