CEO cites quality of Emerald Isle’s workforce and government support.

Eli Lilly & Co. will make its Dunderrow campus in Kinsale, Ireland, the pharma giant’s main launch site for all new products, company Chairman, CEO, and President John Lechleiter has told Irish newspapers.

Lechleiter said the quality of Ireland’s workforce and government support justified the decision, which followed Lilly spending €500 million ($615.5 million) on the Kinsale facility over the past five years.

“We’ve had a very good relationship with the [Industrial Development Agency Ireland or] IDA over the years. We’ve had an excellent relationship with universities none more so than [University College Cork or] UCC, where we had joint research programs, sponsored post-doctoral students, done internships,” Lechleiter told the Irish Examiner.

In comments reported this morning by the Irish-American news website IrishCentral, Lechleiter said the quality of young graduates remained a compelling reason for the company to operate in Ireland rather than cheaper Asian nations. He also brushed aside concerns raised by ministers of Ireland’s cabinet in recent weeks that diminished enrollment figures in science, engineering, and math would bring to Ireland the same skill-set shortage as has been seen in the US and some other nations in as little as five years.

But while Lilly continues to smile on Ireland, Lechleiter warned of future potential problems, tied to pricing for the company’s medicines.

“Ireland’s attractiveness for the kind of investment that our industry makes is also going to be connected with our ability to have our products reimbursed and to have the products that all of our people work on here available to people in Ireland now. Right now we’re at a bit of an impasse as we try to get back to negotiations with the government to ensure that that can happen,” Lechleiter told IrishCentral.

Lechleiter added that workforce quality was the “most decisive factor” behind Lilly’s decision30 years ago to build a substantial presence in Ireland. Lilly has operated at Kinsale since 1981, creating a bulk manufacturing site focused on producing active pharmaceutical ingredients for drugs that include Alimta®, Evista®, Strattera®, and Zyprexa®.

On Feb. 27, Lilly joined with Irish officials in announcing a further expansion of the Kinsale campus with a new €330 million ($442 million) manufacturing plant, for which construction began a month later. The 240,000-square-foot plant, to be operational in late 2013, will lead to 300 construction jobs, followed by creation of 200 new jobs at the facility, bringing Lilly’s total employment in Ireland up to almost 1,000.

The plant is Lilly’s second to be built at Kinsale, in Ireland’s County Cork, within the past five years. A €300 million ($402 million) biopharmaceutical manufacturing and new product commercialization facility finished construction and came online in 2010.


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