EirGen Pharma partners with Waterford research centre on drug delivery

EirGen Pharma, the specialist Waterford pharmaceutical company that has expanded in just four years from a start-up to a diversified business with rapid growth in revenues and employment, has formed a strategic partnership with the Pharmaceutical & Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) at Waterford Institute of Technology that will see Enterprise Ireland support close collaboration between the company and researchers at the Centre.

While the new programme will concentrate largely on innovative methods for delivering drugs to the eyes of patients without the use of needles, joint work between EirGen Pharma and PMBRC has already yielded significant results.

The Centre facilitated clearance by the company of a potentially terminal hurdle with a tablet impurity during the development of their early stage breast cancer drug Eir-010. The drug will be commercially launched in key European markets with sales worth €20m forecast over the next five years.

Announcing the partnership, Tom Brennan, Technical Director, EirGen Pharma, said: “We are very excited by the potential of the programme of work now underway with our colleagues at the PMBRC. As a SME, it is vital that we have access to high-calibre research capacity without incurring the overhead of establishing facilities similar to those we can utilise at PMBRC as required.

“We currently have almost 30 highly-skilled staff in Waterford and intend to increase this figure by one-third in the current year having had our first commercialisation last month. Convenient access to the researchers and facilities at PMBRC has been crucial to our growth over the last four years and it is also these research collaborations that will allow us continue on our development path. It is no exaggeration to say that the team at the Centre has been pivotal to our successful growth to date.

“We hear a lot of commentary about the ‘Smart Economy’ and the need for Ireland to move up the value chain - the research work of the PMBRC is a firm example of that going beyond rhetoric in the pharmaceutical sector. Our partnership with the Centre is a key part of our vision for EirGen Pharma and the working relationship has already been a very productive one on several levels – perhaps most starkly when research at the Centre allowed us proceed with a key drug in our portfolio that might otherwise have been abandoned.”

Dr Niall O’Reilly, Manager, PMBRC, added: “Partnerships with industry are a huge part of the Centre’s work and we very much see our mandate as being to use the talent and facilities we have to support indigenous and multinational companies in this sector. The timeline for EirGen Pharma’s growth over the period since their formation in late 2005 has mirrored our own growth under the leadership of people like principal investigator and founder, Dr Peter McLoughlin, and the team that has grown in the same period.

“Looking forward to building on our ties with EirGen Pharma and with other companies in the southeast and elsewhere, we also very much welcome the opportunity to work further with colleagues at other higher education institutions. The Centre has worked successfully with counterparts at universities in the UK, Asia and other global locations. It is this team approach that allows for the best sharing and application of research outcomes.”

Based at a purpose-built high containment facility in Waterford, EirGen Pharma specialise in high potency solid dose products and received pan-European approval in October for Eir-010. This is seen as an important milestone in the company’s transition from a provider of outsourced research and other services to the pharmaceutical sector to being an Irish success story in its own right.

  • Further information about EirGen Pharma is available at www.eirgen.com