Thermo Fisher Scientific said today it has agreed to acquire a drug substance manufacturing site in County Cork, Ireland, from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for €90 million ($100.7 million), then add to the facility’s capacity—in a deal that continues the buyer’s wave of expansion activity worldwide.

Thermo Fisher said it will continue to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for GSK under a multi-year supply agreement—and plans to expand the site to develop and produce complex APIs for other customers as well.

Through expansion, the Cork plant is positioning itself to meet what Thermo Fisher said was growing customer demand for the development and commercial manufacturing of complex APIs.

The site, located in the Cork village of Ringaskiddy, contains 270 cubic meters (9535 cubic feet) of reactor capacity, 10 production buildings, an R&D pilot plant, and lab infrastructure designed to support process development, scale-up, and physical characterization of APIs.

According to GSK’s website, the Cork plant manufactures active ingredients for nine of the company’s treatments. They include drugs indicated for childhood cancer, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.

“The GSK Cork site will enhance our API offering by expanding our development and commercial capabilities to provide much-needed capacity for APIs currently in development,” Michel Lagarde, senior vice president and president of Pharma Services for Thermo Fisher Scientific, said in a statement.

More than 400 employees are based at the Cork plant—accounting for nearly one-quarter of the 1,700 GSK staffers based at four sites in Ireland; the other three are in Dungarvan, Sligo, and Dublin.

GSK Cork site director Mike O’Sullivan told the Irish TV network RTE that the Cork plan will complete its transition to Thermo Fisher management by year’s end.

“Significantly underutilized”

“Due to strategic changes in the GSK portfolio and emerging pipeline, the Cork site had been significantly underutilized, and it became clear that the site was no longer a competitive fit within GSK’s manufacturing network,” O’Sullivan said. “We believe this acquisition offers a more sustainable future for the Cork site.”

Thermo Fisher said it expects its purchase of the Cork plant will be completed by the end of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions that include regulatory approvals. Upon completion, the site will become part of Thermo Fisher’s Pharma Services business within its Laboratory Products and Services Segment.

The Cork plant acquisition is the latest in a string of expansion moves by Thermo Fisher:

  • The company on May 1 completed its $1.7 billion acquisition of viral vector CDMO Brammer Bio, a deal that expands the company’s capabilities in gene therapy.
  • Thermo Fisher has begun a $50 million expansion of its Center of Excellence for Biological Commercial Manufacturing site in St. Louis, set to be completed later this year.
  • The company said it will invest $150 million toward expansion of capacity for sterile liquid and lyophilized product development and commercial manufacturing at sites in Monza and Ferentino, Italy, and Greenville, NC. Each site will be equipped with aseptic filling lines and isolator technology.

“[The Cork] transaction is another great example of our strategy to build on our strong foundation by adding capacity and capabilities to our pharma services offering through a combination of capital investments and M&A,” Lagarde added.

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