Cork ‘has potential’ to become world leader in the production of medicine

CORK has the potential to have the same reputation as a producer of medicine as Switzerland does for watches.

This is according to one of the leading figures in the pharmaceutical industry who said Ireland needs to reach a stage where firms want to bring a molecule to here and Ireland says: “Leave the rest to us, we will develop it and supply it to the world.”

Bio and Pharma Consulting chief executive Graham Symcox said Ireland tends to focus on manufacturing but the time has come for companies in the country to be more involved in product development.

He said Ireland needs to think Switzerland and not Boston. It has, he said the potential to become a leader player in the development of medicines.

“There needs to be closer links between academics and industry and it these relationships that will bring projects to Ireland,” he said.

“We want to be seen as a place where you bring a molecule, do the development, launch it and supply it. We need to communicate that,” he said.

The pharmaceutical industry employs 24,000 people in Ireland. It is responsible for over 40% of Irish exports and 16 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies are located here.

A conference, organised by the Cork Institute of Technology, Cork County Council, the IDA and UCC, looking at the changes in the industry was held at Cork County Hall yesterday.

Dr Michael Kamarck, former president with Wyeth, said that his company funded Dr Claire O’Leary’s attempt to become the first woman to climb Mount Everest as part of a plan to motivate staff in Ireland.

He said her trek had a “profound impact on site” by boosting the energy and morale of staff.

Dr Kamarck said one of the strategies that Cork can employ is to “strongly support investments in new technologies that will allow for the kind of flexibility that is needed in the future for new manufacturing”.

He said the solution was for companies to work together to build manufacturing consortiums so they can manufacture more efficiently rather than every company having its own manufacturing network.

“It is about combining forces and also to improve the technology that we use in manufacturing. There is no reason that we have to give up manufacturing in Ireland to the Far East. But we are going to have to take very seriously the threat to jobs that are already in existence,” he said.


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