Life Sciences: Pfizer, Ireland’s leading pharmaceutical investor

In association with Pfizer

Good health is vital to all of us, and a sustainable solution to the most pressing health care challenges of our world cannot wait.

As the world’s largest biomedical research and pharmaceutical company, Pfizer plays a role in the discovery and the development of medicines that can significantly improve patients’ lives.

Pfizer is one of Ireland’s leading employers, with a workforce of more than 3,200 people across six locations.

Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time.

Pfizer is the largest pharmaceutical sector investor and employer in the country.

Pfizer was also one of the first pharmaceutical companies to locate in Ireland, establishing its first base at Ringaskiddy in 1969, where more than 600 people are now employed.

Meanwhile, next year will see Pfizer celebrate 50 years in its in Ringaskiddy site. 

This is a major milestone for the company, says Paul Duffy, the company's Global Supply Vice-President of Small Molecule Operations.

Paul who recently scooped the prestigious Pharma Leader of the year Award at the Irish Pharma Industry Awards 2018 has been with the company for almost 30 years, joining the company back in 1991.

“It is a testament to colleagues past and present at Pfizer that we are celebrating 50 years since our opening in Ringaskiddy next year. 

"We have big celebrations planned nationwide in 2019 and we look forward to another successful 50 years in business.”

An aerial view of Pfizer's impressive site in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.

Reflection on career and pharma industry

Paul Duffy, through his award this year, has recently been reflecting on his career thus far.

“During the past few decades, I have seen huge change and progress in the type of medicines that are being discovered,” he said. 

“We are in a ‘Golden Age’ of medicine development and I am very happy to think that many of the devastating diseases affecting my generation may well be cured for the next generation. 

"The value that the pharmaceutical industry contributes to society in reducing illness and death is enormous, we in Ireland play a key role in the supply chain for many of these medicines and this is something we should all be proud of.”

Paul Duffy also highlights the large-scale changes which have taken place in the Pharmaceutical industry: “I have also seen a huge change in the Pharma industry in Ireland over that time with the evolution of large molecule manufacture to a level where we are becoming a go to location for investments in this area.

“It is also good to see that small molecule manufacturing has continued to remain strong and evolve over this time also. 

"Our scale is testament to the success of earlier government industrial policy in supporting the development of our industry, Pharmachem Ireland also deserves credit for their role in supporting our development.

David Staunton, global services director, Zenith Technologies, presents the Pharma Leader Award 2018 to Paul Duffy, Global Supply Vice-President of Small Molecule Operations, Pfizer.

Role of people and colleagues

“For me the greatest contributing factor to our industries growth and development in Ireland is our people,” said Paul Duffy.

“Our people are amongst the best in the world, very well trained, competent in everything they do and capable of managing great complexity.

The theme of females in Sciences, technology, Engineering and Mathematics has become more and more important of late and Duffy agrees.

“I have seen some incredible female talent progress through organisations into significant roles and we are far stronger as a result of that. 

"I am also encouraged to see the numbers of very capable female engineers and chemists coming into the industry and it is great to see many new initiatives targeting women in STEM. 

"And looking ahead to the next generation, there is such opportunity in Ireland for STEM graduates and I would encourage any young people to seriously consider a career in STEM.”

David O’Leary, Facilities Manager, Marymount; Ann Mahony, Director of Nursing, Marymount; with Colm Higgins, Senior Financial Director, Pfizer; and Dermot Kelly, Director, Regulatory Affairs, Pfizer; pictured during Pfizer’s recent visit to Marymount Hospice in Cork. Pic: Diane Cusack

Pfizer in Ireland today

Total capital investment by Pfizer in Ireland exceeds $7billion and its business interests in this country range across manufacturing, shared services, R&D, treasury and commercial operations.

Pfizer exports bulk pharmaceuticals, the active ingredients in its medications for humans and animals, from its large plant in Ringaskiddy to Pfizer plants around the world. 

In 2014, a $30 million specialist high-tech laboratory facility opened at the site. 

The investment, which was supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland, enabled the Ringaskiddy plant to meet the move to smaller volume, new products requiring unique technology and capability.

The Ringaskiddy facility is also the main active pharmaceuticals ingredients site globally for scaling up new products in cooperation with Pfizer Global Research & Development to ensure the timely approval and launch of these new products.

However, Pfizer sees its responsibilities and impact beyond the medicines they discover and develop. 

Pfizer believes it plays a key role in impacting the health of people and the local community and endeavours to be a trusted and responsible member of the community. 

In Cork, Pfizer does this by giving back to the community through school partnerships and supporting local charities and sporting organisations.

Staff of Pfizers in Ringaskiddy providing Togher charity Dogs for the Disabled with a cheque for €650.

Key future issues

Pfizer, along with a number of other pharma companies in Cork, is facing two key issues, which are the need to maintain competitiveness and to continue to attract and retain suitably qualified staff.

“The second challenge we are looking at is to ensure that we continue to have well qualified, excellent colleagues,” he explains.

Demand for key people

Meanwhile, the demand by the bio-pharmaceutical industry for key personnel such as chemical and process engineers, and chemists is outstripping supply.

Skilled, top-drawer employees are crucial to maintaining competitiveness at the facility.

Paul Duffy concludes: “Having a high quality workforce here is very important.”

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