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Eisai invests

Published on 26/01/06 at 04:22pm

Japanese pharma company Eisai is to open a major new single site facility in the UK, marking the country out as a premier destination for investment.

Eisai's 75 million site will house its European headquarters together with its UK sales and marketing, R&D and manufacturing operations.

Due to open in 2008, the new site will create more than 500 jobs at the Hatfield Business Park in Hertfordshire, including some 300 positions in R&D and manufacturing.

President and chief executive Haruo Naito said: "Eisai believes that seamlessly integrating all company functions on a single site improves quality, efficiency and productivity."

Creating a 'seamless value chain' by clustering the different areas of the company together on one site was at the heart of the company's decision, he added.

Europe is a key market for Eisai, which expects the region's pharmaceutical market to expand by 7% between 2006 and 2011, compared with anticipated growth of 8% in the US but just 2% in Japan.

A number of other countries were considered for the new site, including France and Ireland, before the UK was chosen - the first time a Japanese pharma company has located a manufacturing plant here.

Minister for Trade Dr Ian Pearson said: "This is a huge vote of confidence for the UK's biopharmaceutical industry and will be a significant boost for the UK economy."

He said Eisai's expansion was testament to the wealth of R&D talent available in the UK.

According to Dr Pearson the UK's "stable and predictable pricing and sensible regulation" were both factors in Eisai's choice, along with the high quality of the country's university research.

"This shows that we've got a vibrant pharmaceutical industry that is already attractive to companies that want to build long-term relationships with the health service and higher education institutions," Dr Pearson said.

Eisai's investment was welcomed by the ABPI, but it warned that with capital expenditure on long-term assets declining from its 2001 peak of 1 billion the country had to work harder than ever to win future investment.

ABPI director general Dr Richard Barker said: "The UK is a world player in researching and producing innovative medicines, but it is facing increasing competitive pressure, especially from emerging economies. No company can be expected to invest in the UK if the environment here is not sufficiently welcoming."

He highlighted the dangers of over-regulation and increasing product price pressures as areas that the government should watch carefully.

Eisai's first UK R&D operation was established in 1990 at the London Research Laboratories, University College of London.

It was there that a potential new treatment for Parkinson's disease was discovered  - one of five products the company hopes to bring to market by 2012. The others are treatments for severe sepsis, prevention of cardiac events and two anti-cancer drugs.

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