Armagh-based drug manufacturer Almac Pharma is to create 229 new jobs in Craigavon as part of a £13.7m (€16m) investment.

The company makes drugs for international pharmaceutical companies, taking initial formulas and manufacturing them on a large scale for sale worldwide. It provides services to more than 600 companies.

The investment will see it build a new development facility as well as expanding its production of a particularly successful export product at its international headquarters in Armagh.

Northern Irish business-support agency Invest NI will provide £2.05m of the total £13.7m.

The company, which is an off-shoot of Galen, says the new jobs that this investment will create will include highly specialised drug-testing and compliance positions, in addition to skilled operations and manufacturing jobs.

Established in 2002, Almac Pharma is led by its founder and chief executive Sir Allen McClay, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful businessmen. He also founded the drug company Galen in 1968. Now called Warner Chilcott, the company was recently bought by the US drug giant Actavis for €3.9bn.

“Centralising and expanding our production in Craigavon will mean more cost-effective manufacturing and optimal quality control and distribution” said Almac’s Graeme McBurney.

“The added manufacturing capability will enable us to operate with improved speed and efficiency, particularly in the early stages of projects. Ultimately, the investment will make Almac an even more attractive proposition to international clients who seek streamlined, one-stop, drug-development solutions.”

Speaking in Craigavon, Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the investment “is good news for Craigavon and will reinforce Northern Ireland’s position in the wider life-sciences sector”.

She said the 229 jobs would provide almost £5.5m annually in salaries.

The company employs 3,300 people globally and has large operations in Britain and the US, as well as Northern Ireland.

This article featured in the Irish Independent on Wednesday 12th June 2013.