A PHARMACEUTICAL factory in Ayrshire has unveiled a £70 million expansion which will make antibiotics for an extra 100 million patients and create 55 new jobs.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opened the new facility at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Irvine.

It will help the firm meet the growing demand from the developing world and emerging markets.

Scottish Enterprise has pledged £1.5m in grant funding towards to cost of the expansion. It will lead to a 35 per cent boost in capacity at the plant, which produces penicillin.

The expansion is part of GSK’s £200m investment in Scotland since 2013 between its sites in Irvine and Montrose, Angus.

Sturgeon said: “GSK is a global leader in the development of medicines and a great example of a highly innovative company that is benefiting from what Scotland has to offer as an attractive location for global life sciences companies.

“Its further investment is testament to our thriving life sciences industry and its position as a key growth sector for our economy. Its continued commitment across its sites in Scotland is proof of the skill and value of the Scottish workforce.

“Last week I launched A Manufacturing Future for Scotland – an action plan outlining our commitment to delivering new initiatives that stimulate innovation, improve productivity and increase investment in the Scottish manufacturing sector in order that it can better compete globally. Scotland has a long established reputation for innovation and research capability and a highly diverse manufacturing sector.

“We are committed to working with industry and with higher and further education institutions to see this develop further.”

Sir Andrew Witty, GSK CEO, said: “We have a long-standing commitment to manufacturing in Scotland and this new facility secures the long-term future of the site. We export this product to 140 countries, so the impact of the new facility will be felt here and abroad, with more antibiotics being produced for people in countries where they are desperately needed.”

Adrian Gillespie, Scottish Enterprise managing director of operations, said: “GSK is an important contributor to the Scottish economy and to we will continue to support its growth ambition.”