West specialises in packaging for injectible drugs. That includes stoppers for vials of Covid-19 vaccines. The company says it is involved with more than 90 per cent of the companies that have Covid-19 vaccines or vaccine candidates in phase-three trials.
That has seen the US group scale up operations and working schedules at the Waterford plant that it opened in 2018 in response to a surge in customer demand as a result of the pandemic. The plant normally specialises in packaging for insulin for use in pen injectors but it also works on the company’s range of stoppers that are used in Covid vaccine vials, among other things.
The Waterford factory, which has now doubled staff numbers to about 260, will supply millions of rubber vial stoppers to more than a dozen global customers that can be used to package more than a billion vaccine doses in multi-dose vials.
“We are committed to doing our part to provide for the large-scale manufacture of high-quality components required to serve customer needs for the delivery of a safe, effective Covid-19 vaccine,” said Don O’Callaghan, West’s vice-president of European Operations.
“This has resulted in growing our global workforce, expanding facility and equipment resources and shifting to 24-7 operating schedules at several sites to address the demand for components associated with Covid-19.”
Mr O’Callaghan said West’s NovaPure premium stoppers, as well as polymer-coated stoppers, meet the industry standards for packaging sensitive molecules.
Apart from its work with Covid vaccine developers, West has also been involved in supplying packaging components for medicines used to treat Covid-19, as well as critical components that are included in some of the testing kits used to detect the virus.
The additional jobs mean West now employs 900 people in Ireland. It has a contract manufacturing business in Dublin.
West invested upwards of $125 million in the Waterford facility, which is on a 44-acre site that allows for future expansion.