EXPANSION PLANS The Allergan facility at Westport. Grianghraf: Cormac Ó Cionnaith
ALLERGAN Chief Executive, Brent Saunders, has confirmed the company plans to significantly expand its Irish operations with the manufacture of more toxins at its Westport plant where it presently manufactures Botox.
In an in-depth interview with Simon Carswell in The Irish Times last week, the 48-year-old American predicted a doubling of the Irish workforce – presently numbered at 1,700 – in the coming years.
He said the company is testing a number of different categories of drugs, including toxins, and if they pass the clinical test phase they could be produced here expanding its retina implant drug Ozurdex, also made in Westport and potentially a new drug to treat age-related macular degeneration called, Abicipar.
Allergan also aims to increase the use of Botox among millennials and men while increasing growing sales internationally such as in the increasingly affluent Chinese market.
“Botox is great. Frankly, we haven’t introduced a novel toxin as a company since we launched Botox 15 years ago as a cosmetic, and as a therapeutic about 20 years ago,” says Saunders, who was chief executive of eye-care company Bausch & Lomb from 2010 to 2013, before he moved to Allergan in 2014.
“Over the next three to four years, we are likely to launch two or three additional toxins that will be partially developed and 100 percent made in Westport. So the future of Westport is very bright from the toxin perspective but also from potentially new ophthalmic drugs as well. So it could be very exciting,” Mr Saunders told The Irish Times.
Saunders sees growth potential in Galway where Allergan is manufacturing equipment for use in coolsculpting, a fat-freezing, non-invasive and non-surgical form of cosmetic treatment. “That is a new operation for us and it is one that over time could become larger and more important too,” says Saunders.
Praising the quality of the Irish workforce and resources, Mr Saunders said that in the 41 years since it established its operation in Westport ‘every experience we have had in terms of production, or technology, or recruiting talent, or developing talent, has just been fantastic’.
“It has worked for us for 40-plus years. I suspect it will work and work better for another 40 years,” he said.
In 2018 alone Allergan invested a further €50 million in its Irish operations, expanding its laboratories and manufacturing operations to prepare the Westport and Clonshaugh, Co Dublin, facilities for the kind of product development Mr Saunders outlined.
Dillon welcomes Allergan CEO’s commitment
Fine Gael General Election candidate for Mayo, Alan Dillon, has welcomed the comments by Mr Saunders.
Mr Dillon, who is a Senior CQV (comissioning, qualification and validation) consultant with the company, said: “Mr Saunders has proudly stated that Ireland is part of Allergan’s DNA. With over 40 years of phenomenal growth through their Irish operations, I am delighted to see that Allergan’s Chief Executive has ambitious plans for their Irish workforce.
“Mayo has played a massive role in making Allergan a leading global player in the pharmaceutical industry and comments about their Irish workforce increasing over the next several years are extremely positive. There is barely a family in Mayo that does not know someone who has benefitted from the employment offered by Allergan over the past four decades in what we can now proudly call the first 40 years. I have every confidence that the people of Mayo will continue to embrace what has been a good employer and important ratepayer and support any expansion plans that may be planned for their Mayo operations.”