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SK Biotek opens medicine components factory in Ireland

Jan 27,2018
SK Biotek, a subsidiary of SK Holdings, began operations at its pharmaceutical ingredients factory in Swords, Dublin, on Thursday.

The Korean company acquired the facility from Bristol-Myers Squibb, an American pharmaceutical giant, last June with the aim of more aggressively entering global markets.

SK Biotek also rehired roughly 360 employees formerly under Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The factory will produce ingredients for drugs used to treat cancer, diabetes and lower the risk of stroke. It now has the capacity to produce 81,000 liters per year, but SK hopes to expand and meet what it considers a fast-growing market for pharmaceuticals.

The company is also reviewing plans to apply its “continuous reaction process technology” to the facility.

The technology, according to SK Biotek, is a method of making new substances by inducing continuous chemical reactions inside long pipes. The company believes this makes the production process more efficient and environmentally friendly because chemical reactions are happening continuously.

SK Biotek commercialized the technology in 2007 and earned approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2014.

In the long run, SK Biotek hopes to make the Swords facility its outpost for production, sales and marketing in Europe.

The company is already adding marketing staff to its work force.

“We hope to make SK Biotek a global contract manufacturing organization boasting 4 trillion won [$3.76 billion] in corporate value by 2020,” said Park Jun-ku, chief executive of SK Biotek.

SK Biotek is the first Korean pharmaceutical company to place its production base in Ireland. The company currently focuses on providing ingredients to drug makers on contract.

The opening ceremony on Thursday was attended by Michael D’Arcy, minister of state at the department of finance.

SK Biotek said the Irish government and its investment promotion agency, IDA Ireland, welcomed the Korean company’s entry in the country when the acquisition deal was first inked last year.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]