Cork’s Pharma Industry at a Glance

  • Over 10,000 are people directly employed by Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturing Companies in Cork. Many more are employed indirectly.
  • Home to 6 of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies
  • More than 25 companies have manufacturing sites

Sites in the county include a Shingo Prize Winner for excellence in manufacturing, one of the top 9 most advanced factories in the world and Cork’s Company of the Year 2018. Read on to find out more…

Cork consistently ranks 1st or 2nd for having the most available Pharmaceutical and MedTech jobs in Ireland. Click here to see Pharmaceutical and MedTech jobs in Cork

Map of Ireland Showing 56,000 Pharmaceutical Medical Device Employees Broken Down By County

MedTech and Pharma Job Announcements in Cork

There have been several investment and job announcements in Cork recently. Some of the most significant include:

  • BioMarin is adding 51 jobs with a €37m expansion of its Shanbally site – total employees will exceed 400 once complete
  • Janssen Sciences announced 200 new jobs with a €300m expansion of its Ringaskiddy site expected to be complete by 2019
  • Lilly is expanding its Kinsale site with 500 new employees expected by 2019
  • MSD is creating 210 new jobs at its biologics testing and manufacturing site in Brinny (announced in two separate announcements)

Top MedTech Companies in Cork


  • Activities: Contact lens manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 400

This Cork manufacturing site was established in 1991 by Summit Autonomous and bought by Alcon in 2000.

Alcon is a specialist eyecare company that manufactures pharmaceutical products, contact lenses and lens care products as well as surgical equipment and devices. It joined Novartis in 2012 and is now the company’s 2nd largest division.

The Cork plant is the European manufacturing centre for the Alcon’s intraocular lenses (the lens that replaces the natural lens of the eye after removal during cataract surgery).

Take a look inside Alcon’s Cork manufacturing site…

Boston Scientific

  • Activities: Medical device manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 900

Boston Scientific produces a large range of medical devices used to diagnose and treat patients with issues in the areas of cardiology, urology, endoscopy and many more.

The Cork manufacturing site was opened in 1998 and manufactures approximately 5 million medical device units per year (across several areas of the business). In 2016, the facility was awarded the prestigious Shingo Prize – an annual award given to recognise excellence in manufacturing.

In 2018, Boston Scientific’s Cork site won Corporate of the Year as well as overall Company of the Year at Cork Company of the Year Awards.

Johnson & Johnson (Depuy Synthes)

  • Activities: Orthopaedic device manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 1000

Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s leading healthcare companies. Depuy Synthes is a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that manufactures orthopaedic medical devices. Its Cork manufacturing site has been operational since 1997.

In 2018, the Ringaskiddy site was named as one of the top 9 most advanced factories in the world by the World Economic Forum for its use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.


  • Activities: Surgical implant manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 1500 (across 3 Co.Cork sites)

Stryker manufactures medical technology with a focus on surgical devices – it is now one of the biggest such companies in the world.

Stryker has 3 plants in Cork. The Cork Instruments plant develops and surgical instruments and associated technology. The Stryker Orthopaedics site in Cork researches and develops biomaterials as well as manufacturing knee and hip joints. In 2017, Stryker opened its Global Technology Development Center and Centralized Additive Technology manufacturing hub in Carrigtwohill.

Top Pharmaceutical Companies in Cork


  • Activities: Bulk tablet finishing
  • Employees in Cork: 150

AbbVie is the 8th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue). The company manufactures pharmaceutical treatments in therapy areas such as dermatology, oncology, neurological disorders and metabolic diseases.

AbbVie’s site in Carrigtwohill manufactures solid and capsule formulations. As well as large-scale commercial manufacturing, the site also produces smaller scale products for clinical trials.

AbbVie was named number 1 in Ireland’s Best Workplaces 2018.

Take a look inside AbbVie’s Cork manufacturing site…


  • Activities: Biologics drug substance manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 400

BioMarin is a biotechnology company that develops and manufactures treatments for rare genetic diseases.

The Cork biologics site is the company’s only manufacturing site outside of the USA. It was opened in 2011 and has undergone several expansions since then. In 2018, BioMarin announced plans to introduce a fill-finish facility at the Shanbally site, which will see it become capable of “fully integrated manufacturing from bulk to drug product”.

Gilead Sciences

  • Activities: Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 500

Gilead Sciences is the 11th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue).

The Cork site is responsible for manufacturing, quality control, packaging, and release and distribution of 11 products. It is the company’s only site outside of Germany to focus on worldwide tablet supply. The products manufactured here account for approximately a quarter of the tablet-form drugs the company produces.

In 2018, Gilead Sciences opened a new QC laboratory facility after a €9.5m investment within the Carrigtwohill plant.


  • Activities: API manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 450

GSK is the 6th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue). It manufactures products for various diseases including mental health, diabetes, asthma, cancer and virus control. GSK also manufactures nutritional products, drinks and other healthcare goods.

GSK’s Cork site was established in 1975 and the company has invested €700m in the site since then. It now produces the active pharmaceutical ingredients for 9 GSK products and is the sole production site for some of the companies top selling products.

Learn more about GSK operations in Ireland…

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

  • Activities: Pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 1000

Johnson & Johnson is the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue). Janssen is the pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson.

Janssen has 2 manufacturing sites in Cork. Janssen Pharmaceutical Sciences was established in 1981 in Little Island. This site manufactures bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Janssen Sciences opened the biologics manufacturing site in Ringaskiddy in 2005. The site now manufactures 4 commercial products as well as products in development and for clinic trials. It currently employs 555 people. In 2017, Janssen Sciences announced €300m expansion plans for the site. It is expected that, once completed in 2019, this expansion will lead to 200 more jobs at the site.

Find out more about Janssen in Cork…


  • Activities: Biologics, pharmaceutical and animal health manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 500

Lilly is the 12th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue).

Lilly has had an API manufacturing site in Dunderrow, near Kinsale since 1981. This site now employees over 500 people and carries out 3 main activities – API manufacture and supply, small molecule commercialisation (late phase product development and optimisation) and biopharmaceutical commercialisation and supply.

The company has invested over €800m in the Cork site over the past decade. Most recently, in 2017, Lilly confirmed €200m investment plans to expand the Cork site. This expansion could lead to many more new jobs over the next few years.


  • Activities: Biologics testing and manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 380

MSD is the 7th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue). There has been an MSD site in Cork for almost 35 years.

Its Brinny site develops, tests and manufactures vaccines and biologics used to treat cancer, hepatitis C and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as biologics products for clinical trials. Products manufactured here are exported to 90 countries around the world.

MSD has made multiple investment announcements regarding the Brinny site over recent years and it is expected that several hundred new jobs will be created here after these expansions have been completed.

MSD Brinny was a finalist in the Corporate category for Cork Company of the Year 2018.

Learn more about MSD in Ireland…


  • Activities: API & intermediate manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 1050

Novartis is the 4th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue). It produces a range of products including pharmaceuticals, vaccines, contact lenses, over-the-counter drugs and veterinary medicines.

The manufacturing site in Ringaskiddy has been operational since 1994, manufacturing intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients.

See inside Novartis’ Cork operations…


  • Activities: API manufacturing
  • Employees in Cork: 400 (across 2 Co Cork sites)

Pfizer is the 3rd biggest pharmaceutical company in the world (based on 2017 revenue) and was the first pharmaceutical multinational to locate to Ireland in the 1960s. The company now has 2 active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing sites in Cork.

In Ringaskiddy, the site has 3 organic synthesis plants and a new product testing laboratory. There has been a Pfizer plant on this site since 1969. The Little Island was established in the early 1980s, there are currently a further 2 organic synthesis plants here.

Learn more about Pfizer in Ireland…

Is a Pharma Career or MedTech Career Right for You?

If you’re interested in a MedTech or Pharmaceutical manufacturing career in Cork, the first step is to see if you’re suitable. Take this 30 second quiz to see if you’re a good fit for this industry

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