Pfizer, innovating for more than five decades in Ireland

Dr Paul Duffy, Vice President, Pfizer Global Supply, says the company is very proud to be one of Ireland’s longest established and largest employers
Pfizer, innovating for more than five decades in Ireland

Unveiling the refurbished Cork Simon Riverview apartments, Andersons Quay, Cork, in September 2019 (pre-Covid): Dermot Kelly, Director CMC Strategy, Global Regulatory Affairs, Pfizer; Clair Murphy, site lead, Pfizer Ringaskiddy, Dermot Kavanagh, director of Cork Simon, and Josephine Crinnion, Cork Simon project worker. The refurbishment project was solely supported by Pfizer. The renovation included a full refit of the kitchen living areas, bedrooms and bathrooms. Picture: Adrian O’Herlihy

In 1969, Pfizer became one of the first biopharmaceutical companies to locate to Ireland, establishing a base in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork. Pfizer has since become both the largest pharmaceutical sector investor in the country and one of Ireland’s leading employers.

Today there are over 800 people at the Ringaskiddy site, and a combined workforce of more than 4,000 people across five locations in Cork, Kildare and Dublin.

Furthermore, the capital investment by Pfizer since its establishment here over five decades ago now exceeds $8 billion and business interests range across manufacturing, shared services, R&D and commercial operations.

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. The Irish sites manufacture leading medicines and vaccines in the areas of pneumococcal disease, arthritis, inflammation, cancer, anti-infectives, haemophilia, pain and stroke.

Recent investments

 Pfizer has continued to invest and upscale its sites across Ireland and as recent as last November announced a €300 million capital investment supporting the further development of existing manufacturing sites in Grange Castle Dublin, Newbridge Kildare and Ringaskiddy Cork.

Dr Paul Duffy, Pfizer, VP of Global Supply.
Dr Paul Duffy, Pfizer, VP of Global Supply.

The investment will provide additional manufacturing and laboratory capacity creating approximately 300 roles, with additional anticipated construction roles in Ringaskiddy, estimated to be completed over the next two to three years.

Ringaskiddy site

 The Ringaskiddy facility plays a key role in scaling up new products in cooperation with Pfizer Global Research and Development to ensure their timely approval and launch.

Operationally, Pfizer Ringaskiddy exports bulk pharmaceuticals, the active ingredients in its medications, to Pfizer plants around the world. In 2014, a $30 million specialist hi-tech laboratory facility opened at the site: The New Product Technology Laboratory.

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.

An aerial view of the Pfizer site in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.
An aerial view of the Pfizer site in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.

The current and latest investment includes the initial stage of a project to construct a development facility on the existing Ringaskiddy site to manufacture pharmaceutical compounds for Pfizer’s clinical trials globally.

This is a very important development as it expands Pfizer’s role in Ireland from the manufacturing of already approved medicines into supporting the earlier phases of new medicine development.

Speaking about the significance of the development at the Ringaskiddy site, Dr Paul Duffy, Vice President, Pfizer Global Supply; “it is a strong vote of confidence in the capability of our people that has enabled the Ringaskiddy site to be chosen as the location to manufacture investigational compounds for our clinical trials globally and we look forward to seeing that new facility become operational.” 

Demand for key people

 Meanwhile, the demand in the bio-pharmaceutical industry for key personnel such as chemical and process engineers, and chemists is outstripping supply. At Pfizer and particularly with the recent announcements from the Ringaskiddy site, there are multiple active roles being advertised currently and many more being added over the coming months.

The roles being recruited for comprise a broad range of highly skilled roles including analysts, technicians, engineers, scientists, technologists, quality specialists, data analysts and chemists.

Clair Murphy, centre, Pfizer Ringaskiddy site lead, showing the facility to Triona Curran and Amy O’Reilly during a 2019 (pre-Covid) visit from the WiSTEM Society at UCC. Picture: Adrian O’Herlihy
Clair Murphy, centre, Pfizer Ringaskiddy site lead, showing the facility to Triona Curran and Amy O’Reilly during a 2019 (pre-Covid) visit from the WiSTEM Society at UCC. Picture: Adrian O’Herlihy

People are at the core of Pfizer values and skilled employees are crucial to maintaining competitiveness, Paul Duffy concludes: “Having a high-quality workforce here is very important.” 

While Pfizer continues to play a key role in impacting the health of people with the medicines they discover and develop, there also continues to be a corporate social responsibility to the local community. In Cork, Pfizer does this by giving back to the community through school partnerships and supporting local charities and sporting organisations.

Future innovations 

Aside from all the investment and opportunities mentioned above, Pfizer continues to innovate and collaborate to find the breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.

Gene therapy is one area which holds particular promise and one where Pfizer has been focusing with various investments and R&D spend.

Clair Murphy, centre, Pfizer Ringaskiddy site lead, showing the facility to Triona Curran and Amy O’Reilly during a 2019 (pre-Covid) visit from the WiSTEM Society at UCC. Picture: Adrian O’Herlihy
Clair Murphy, centre, Pfizer Ringaskiddy site lead, showing the facility to Triona Curran and Amy O’Reilly during a 2019 (pre-Covid) visit from the WiSTEM Society at UCC. Picture: Adrian O’Herlihy

Gene therapy is a new generation of medicine where a functioning gene is delivered to a targeted tissue in the body to produce a missing or non-functioning protein.

By using genes as medicine, the underlying cause of a disease can be targeted at the cellular level, potentially with just one treatment.

Collaboration has played a big role in the company innovating and their work with BioNTech on the vaccine showcases what is possible when a true partnership exists.

“The key to our approach is collaborating in new and dynamic ways with other innovators across the health landscape including academic scientists, patient foundations, governments, other biopharmaceutical companies and treating physicians,” says Paul Duffy.

For more information or to find out about current roles in Pfizer Ireland, check out www.pfizer.ie

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