Sector built on world class performance
Ireland’s phenomenal success in attracting high level investment owes a great deal to the consistently world class performance of Irish-based companies in good manufacturing practice (GMP).
The recent ‘Molecules Make A Difference’ report by the Ibec group BioPharmaChem Ireland (BCPI) — a strategy document which was created for the Irish biopharmaceutical industry — praises the “extraordinarily good” record of Ireland’s pharma sector in terms of compliance with statutory and quality regulations.
Audits conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and consumer audits all consistently give high ratings to Irish GMP performance.
The BCPI report further states: “Ireland has a very well-educated, hardworking, flexible workforce with a ‘can-do’ attitude and a pride that often results in the Irish operations excelling in a corporate environment. The workforce, together with low taxation, financial incentives and grants, and access to profitable key markets, makes Ireland the number one choice for doing business.”
The BCPI report was conducted in partnership with many leading companies in Ireland’s thriving biopharma industry, and includes key inputs from the IDA. The IDA notes that the last three years have seen a strong resurgence in the Irish life sciences sector; it cites 2015 as a “banner year” — with major projects announced by companies such as Alexion, Amneal and Regeneron. Since January 2012, this wave of announced investments has totalled more than $4bn (€3.5bn) in capital committed and over 3,000 new high value direct jobs with a large number of additional indirect jobs in construction as well as other services. A striking feature of this ongoing investment has also been the strong regional dispersal, with locations such as Westport, Galway, Limerick, Cashel,Waterford and Athlone all benefitting.
In infectious disease the Hepatitis C drugs from Gilead and Abbvie have been huge successes and led to investment in Ireland.
In cardiovascular disease the PCSK9 antibodies have captured the imagination of the markets, while Regeneron and Amgen have invested in their supply chains in Ireland.
The last few years have been a golden age for oncology research and Ireland has benefitted in the form of major investments to produce the new Pd1 antibodies Opdivo and Keytruda from BMS and MSD.
Ireland is also seeing continued growth in drug approvals in the orphan and ultra-orphan spaces as evidenced by additional investment from companies such as Alexion and Biomarin.
BPCI director Matt Moran states that we are currently seeing the evolution of this sector in Ireland, with more diversification evident than ever before. He notes that many of the new investments in this area have been within the biologics sector with Alexion, Regeneron, Mallinckrodt and Bristol Myers Squibb all establishing significant facilities in Ireland. Ireland continues to develop into an important supply chain hub for the entire biopharma sector.
He notes that the case studies in the BPCI report clearly illustrate how this development has evolved.
The case studies also demonstrate how the entire infrastructure has developed in parallel to support the continued expansion of the sector in Ireland.
Mr Moran says: “I see Ireland continuing to play an important role as a centre of manufacturing, supply and development for the entire pharma sector — from small through medium to large molecule.”
One case study featured in BPCI’s report is global health and nutrition group FMC International, which has 5,000 employees in 36 countries worldwide, and a significant operation in Cork since the 1970s.
Brendan Keane, general manager, FMC International, Cork, said: “We are a mature, largely exporting, business established in 1978 in Cork- consistently growing with our global customers in Pharmaceutical and food applications.
“While wage and salary restraint have contributed to retaining our competitive edge, having good people focused on operating excellence and also continuing to invest in automation and productivity have been critical.
“We had just expanded the production capacity coming into the recession, and our focus on safe operation, productivity and value adding activity has led to the very recent creation of significant additional employment in financial services and customer support. Access to and retention of good people and successfully driving unit costs lower has been and remains critical to our success,” stated Mr Keane.
Martin Shanahan, IDA chief executive, notes that more than €10bn has been invested in this very significant sector during the past decade.
“Ireland remains an extremely attractive location for foreign direct investment,” he states in the BPCI report. “We have over many years been successful in attracting investment in a broad range of sectors. 2015 was one of the most successful years to-date for Foreign Direct Investment. There are now 187,000 people employed in the IDA Ireland portfolio of companies and when one takes indirect employment into account approximately one in five people in Ireland are dependent on FDI for employment.
“A key contributor to this success has been manufacturing — and in particular the Life Sciences sector (Medical Technologies and Biopharmaceuticals).
“These companies are clustered in multiple locations around the country with strong infrastructural and academic supports.
“It is the largest exporter of products by value with manufacturing as a whole accounting for more than 20% of Irish GDP.
“Ireland is the home of biopharma manufacturing with a strong and deep life sciences background for both drug substance and for drug product. Ireland is currently seeing a steady stream of new international investments particularly in biopharmaceuticals. Nine of the top ten global biopharmaceutical companies have an international base in Ireland today. Over €10bn has been invested in the sector in the last decade.”
Martin Shanahan, IDA chief executive, says life sciences firms are Ireland’s largest exporters of products by value with manufacturing accounting for more than 20% of Irish GDP.