Kinsale manufacturing site: a story of continuous improvement

Today’s guest blog is by Dr. Seamus Malone, Vice President, Technical Services/Manufacturing Science at Eli Lilly and Company.

As a company that develops medicines to serve patients around the world, Lilly seeks out the highest standards in manufacturing excellence and employs the best and brightest highly skilled workers to help us develop the next generation of innovative treatments.

35% of our global manufacturing staff is based in Europe, employing over 3,000 people across 4 sites. Lilly’s first manufacturing investment in Ireland began with the construction of a manufacturing facility in Dunderrow, close to Kinsale, County Cork in 1978 and since then, we have tirelessly worked to support the development, manufacture and supply of many of the medicines in Lilly's portfolio.

The company has made significant investments in its Ireland-based manufacturing operations since 2006. The site produces a range of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) that are further processed into final drug products, and thanks to several investments in the last decade, its mission has expanded with the development of a center of technical excellence, allowing the site to participate earlier in the life cycle of innovative medicines.

In collaboration with Chemical Product Research and Development, Kinsale is involved in late phase product development and optimisation, which includes product technical transfers, scale-ups and clinical trial API manufacture. This also involves the implementation of new technologies and continuous processing technologies.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, a recent example of the site’s manufacturing best practice was published in the journal “Science”, a peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and one of the world's top academic journals. The process in question illustrates a huge accomplishment for our technical experts, achieved in 2014 in the complex and challenging theatre of activity in which we operate. It highlights the partnership between eight continuous unit operations used in series to improve manufacturing and quality outcomes that will enable the acceleration of the production of a medicine to be used in clinical trials in the field of oncology.

This major breakthrough in manufacturing technology has undoubtedly driven the competitiveness of our site. During a visit to Kinsale in October, our CEO Dave Ricks officially opened the new continuous manufacturing facility, which represents a significant scientific and technological advancement for the chemical synthesis of small molecules of our pipeline.

Lilly’s engagement in Ireland is an excellent example of its commitment to invest in communities in Europe to put together highly pioneering science and technologies and highly skilled teams. These elements are key to take the long and difficult road towards developing future innovative treatments for patients with safety first and quality always.