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Genzyme To Expand Ireland Plant, Add 170 Jobs

U.S. drug maker announced plans to expand its manufacturing and research facilities in Ireland and hire another 170 people.

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- U.S. biotechnology company Genzyme Corp. announced plans Tuesday to expand its manufacturing and research facilities in Ireland.

The Irish government said it was offering confidential assistance to subsidize the planned euro130 million (US$200 million) expansion of Genzyme's operations in the southeast city of Waterford.

Genzyme of Cambridge, Massachusetts, set up its first manufacturing facility in Waterford in 2001 and plans to hire another 170 people, boosting its Irish work force to more than 600.

The company said it plans to build a new production line for soft-gel capsules, expand its existing plant for filling medicine vials, and add lab and office space.

Mark Bamforth, senior vice president of corporate operations and pharmaceuticals at Genzyme, said the expansion in Ireland represented ''a ringing endorsement of the positive experiences we have had there.''

Genzyme specializes in making drugs for use in fighting rare genetic disorders, kidney disease and cancer and helping organ-transplant recipients. It employs more than 10,000 people worldwide.

Ireland, a country of 4.2 million, is a major European hub for drug development and production. Most of the world's biggest drug companies have manufacturing and R&D operations here that employ about 25,000 people.

Trade, Employment and Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin noted that half of all foreign corporate investments to Ireland so far this year have come from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and they constitute ''a crucial component of Ireland's economic landscape.''

The Genzyme move was the second major foreign investment this year for Waterford, a city known internationally because of its hand-cut crystal factory. Last month the Israeli generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. announced a euro65 million (US$100 million) plan to expand its Waterford campus and boost its work force from 650 to 815.
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