\"Manufacturing

Manufacturing botox saved Westport town, Mayo, from the sharp bite of the recession Photo by: Google Images

Botox boom saves Irish town amid the massive downturn and recession

\"Manufacturing

Manufacturing botox saved Westport town, Mayo, from the sharp bite of the recession Photo by: Google Images

The production of Botox on the outskirts of Westport in Co Mayo is helping to create an Irish boom town despite Ireland's economic recession.

Allergan, which manufactures the cosmetic drug, announced that it is expanding its workforce in the west of Ireland to more than 1,000 and is building a new research and development center in the coastal town. The company estimates that within five years, 60 per cent of Botox sales will be for illnesses ranging from cerebral palsy to migraines as well as what it is most known for - anti-ageing treatments.

Allergan started with only 25 workers in 1977 and little was expected back then when nothing was known about Botox.

“When they arrived, Westport, like a lot of towns on the west of Ireland, was on its knees,”  Sean Staunton, who served on the town council for 37 years told the irish Times. “They were very welcome, but there were no great expectations at the time.”

Now the factory and the surrounding beauty  keeps 10 hotels in business, providing an estimated 1,000 jobs in tourism and catering as well as the 1,000 jobs at the Botox plant..

Joe Corcoran, a local hotelier says the town would be devastated without Botox. “There have only been two construction projects here in the last three years – a school and the Lidl supermarket – so these jobs will be very welcome.”

According to the Guardian, Allergan's quarterly profit figures were revealed last Thursday in the US at $279.8m (£176m), up 6% from last year's fourth quarter. Global sales of Botox, its key product, grew 8% in the fourth quarter to $415.3m.

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Pat O'Donnell, Allergan's managing director in Ireland, wants to emphasize that Botox is more than just a way to fight wrinkles.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that at present about 50% of the revenue we get from Botox is cosmetic, but the rest comes from therapeutic treatments such as juvenile cerebral palsy, adult spasticity and, just recently, we got approval for chronic migraine and overactive bladder in people with spinal cord injuries or patients suffering from MS.

"We expect that in the next four to five years it will probably switch to 60% of the revenue coming from therapeutic treatments rather than cosmetic," said O'Donnell. "Botox was being used to treat wrinkles and lines in the forehead, and some people doing that reported a reduction in migraine pain. I met a woman at a medical conference who told me she went from suffering around 28 days a month with severe migraine to just a few once she started using Botox."

Barry O'Leary, chief executive of Ireland's Industrial Development Authority said that Allergan's investment proves that Ireland is still an attractive location for multinational industries.

"Nine of the top 10 global pharma and biopharma companies have a significant presence in Ireland. The sector benefits from a highly skilled workforce, an exceptionally strong track record in development, manufacturing and compliance, a competitive tax rate and easy access to global markets."

Allergan's presence in Westport appears to have saved the town from the worst ravages of the economic downturn, reports the Guardian. The workforce has stayed loyal to the town and the company and the average worker spends 11 years at the factory.

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Says O'Donnell: "That demonstrates serious loyalty and a lot of what we do is commercially sensitive with very specialised, technical knowledge. So because we can keep that within the organisation by virtue of the fact that we have a low employee turnover, it makes Westport even more attractive."

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