NOVATO -- BioMarin Pharmaceutical has entered into an agreement to buy a 133,000-square-foot Pfizer manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland, for $48.5 million.

The acquisition of the plant and the establishment of and international supply chain and logistics presence in Dublin earlier this year are BioMarin's first production expansions outside the U.S., according to Barry O'Leary, chief executive of the Irish Investment and Development Agency.

He said the price is roughly one-fifth the cost to construct and validate a new facility. The purchase is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, following the winddown of current operations and the transfer of the Irish EPA license. The Ireland plant was completed and validated in 2009. The Irish Medicines Board approved it in 2010.

"This is an opportunstic purchase for us," said Bob Purcell, spokesman for BioMarin.

"The new plant in Shanbally greatly expands our manufacturing capacity to accommodate our growing commercial portfolio and advancing clinical programs," said Jean-Jacques Bienaime, chief executive officer of BioMarin. "Our recently expanded manufacturing facility in Novato, California, is on track to receive approval by the end of 2011 and can support approximately $1 billion in revenue. We believe that additional manufacturing capabilities beyond our current resources will be needed to support anticipated peak sales for GALNS, PEG-PAL for PKU, BMN 701 for Pompe disease, BMN 111 for achondroplasia, if they continue to progress to approval, and our other preclinical programs."

The plant will be occupied in a phased transition with substantial manufacturing activities being tied to results of the ongoing phase 3 clinical study for GALNS, a drug designed to treat Morquio A syndrome. In the meantime, maintenance expenses for the facility are expected to be approximately $4 million a year. It is anticipated that the facility will be licensed for GALNS production by 2015.

The current plant in Marin has the capacity to put out roughly $1 billion in product. Last year's revenues were $376.27 million. Mr. Purcell said after GALNS is licensed, BioMarin will move production to the Ireland facility. The company expects to have roughly 100 employees at the facility over the next five years then transition as the company brings on new medicines.

"The new facility in Shanbally also diversifies our manufacturing risk and provides us with an attractive business environment," said Mr. Bienaime. "The facility is state-of-the-art, utilizing disposable technology and flexibly designed and will allow us to run either fed batch or perfusion processes. This gives us tremendous latitude for the types of products that can be produced at the plant and allows us to focus efforts on the technical transfer of our next commercial product into the facility."

BioMarin has more than 900 employees. The company develops and commercializes biopharmaceuticals for rare diseases and medical conditions.