Pfizer to invest more than $2.5b on expansion

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Pfizer Inc is investing more than $2.5 billion at its drug making plants in Belgium and Ireland, gearing up to launch new products it hopes can replace lost revenue as patents expire and COVID-19 vaccine sales decline.

The drugmaker said on Friday it plans to spend more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.26 billion) to expand its Puurs, Belgium manufacturing site, matching the investment at its Dublin, Ireland plant announced on Thursday.

The Puurs site has played a key role in the production of COVID-19 vaccine shots Pfizer developed with its German partner BioNTech using the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Output started there in late 2020 when Europe and the United States began rolling out shots to tackle the pandemic.

“It is all aligned with the growth of our pipeline,” Pfizer Chief Global Supply Officer Mike McDermott told Reuters.

“If you project out the capacity modeling for these two sites … you’ll find a gap in our ability to serve that (growth). So this is proactive investment,” he said on Thursday.

Pfizer’s revenue is expected to top $100 billion this year – more than double its pre-pandemic level – on the strength of sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, Paxlovid.

But COVID-related sales are expected to drop sharply over the next few years, and Pfizer also faces the loss of patent protections for some big-selling medicines after 2025, such as cancer treatment Ibrance and arthritis drug Xeljanz.

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