Merger plans by pharmaceutical giants who are based in Ireland always raise alarm bells.
That’s because the country is home to most of the world’s drugs giants and any news of mergers can have implications for the tens of thousands of people the industry employs.
It happened in at the depth of Ireland’s economic crash in 2010 when Pfizer announced plans “to reconfigure” six global manufacturing plants, including a number in Ireland.
A year earlier, Pfizer had agreed to buy Wyeth, which also had considerable operations in the Republic. Plants did close, but there were fewer jobs lost than first feared.
Two years ago, similar fears were raised before Pfizer aborted its huge acquisition of Allergan.
Driven by tax advantages, that deal was scuppered by the US government, but could have had significant implications for Ireland because of the huge numbers the two firms employ here.
GSK, as recently as August, announced plans to close a Sligo manufacturing plant with the loss of 160 jobs. The plant is due to shut in 2021.
Thankfully, the latest tie-up news may have little effect on jobs numbers. Pfizer is one of Ireland’s largest private employers, employing over 3,200 people at six sites.
GSK has 1,700 people working across four locations, including Dungarvan, which makes the consumer product Panadol.
Much to the relief of everyone, Dungarvan’s future appears secure.