Patent cliff hits export figures

The patent cliff continues to eat into exports as a number of high-profile drugs, including Lipitor and Viagra, left Irish export figures drooping.

The CEO of the Irish Exporters’ Association, John Whelan, said that Pfizer reducing the price of Viagra as it came off patent in the UK had hit the Irish export figures severely.

“Viagra came off of patent in the UK which meant that Pfizer had to reduce prices to fend off the generics manufactures,” he said.

Alan McQuaid, Merrion Stockbrokers, agreed that the pharmaceutical sector was dragging down the Irish export figures.

“Output from this area tends to be quite erratic at the best of times due to company-specific developments in patents and product cycles.

“Indeed, industrial production data in recent months suggest that the expiry of patents in certain pharmaceutical products has impacted negatively on output,” he said.

The figures released by the CSO found there had been a 4% drop in exports in May, according to preliminary figures.

Mr McQuaid said the figures had fallen short of what had been expected.

“[The figures] were weaker than we expected with Ireland recording a seasonally-adjusted merchandise trade surplus of €3bn in May, €245m lower than April’s revised surplus of €3.3bn.”

Compared to the same period last year, there has been nearly a 6% decline in exports. Medical and pharmaceutical products were down €579m and petroleum products down by €132m.

Despite the decline in the pharmaceutical sector, Mr Whelan pointed to the strong recovery of the food and drinks sector which had suffered due to the horsemeat scandal.

The agri-food and drink sector has seen an increase in sales of 12% for the last three months and is up by 6% since January, he said.


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