Ireland has a world-renowned reputation for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing.
These industries are well developed and growing strongly throughout the country – Ireland currently hosts 9 of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies and 18 of the top 25 medtech companies.
If you’ve found yourself looking for a new career and are considering a move into this sector, there are a huge number of companies currently operating here.
Check out the following:
- Search Ireland’s Largest Pharmaceutical Jobs Board
- Save Days OFF your Job Search with this List of 180 Pharmaceutical Companies in Ireland
- Find 190 Pharmaceutical and Med Device Factories on this Google Map
- See 190 Pharma and Med Device Factory in Ireland listed by county on this table
But for now, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 pharmaceutical and medical device companies in Ireland.
Area/Products: Diagnostics, medical devices, generic pharmaceuticals and nutritionals.
Brief history: Abbott worldwide was founded in 1888. Globally, Abbott currently employs 1070,000 people, with a customer base across over 130 countries and global sales in 2019 of $19.95 billion. Abbott work in research, development, manufacture, and marketing of a range of products. Their portfolio spans the breadth of healthcare including medical devices, diagnostics, branded generic pharmaceuticals, and nutritionals.
Presence in Ireland: Abbott has had a presence in Ireland since 1946. Today they employ over 3,400 people across seven Irish locations including manufacturing sites in Cavan, Donegal, Longford, Sligo and Tipperary.
Area/Products: Pharmaceutical and medical device multi-speciality health care company
Brief history: Allergan began in 1950 after its founder successfully developed anti-allergy nose and eye drops. The focus was novel treatments for speciality markets in response to feedback and information from healthcare professionals and patients. Allergen is a multi-speciality provider in areas including eye care, neurosciences, and dermatology.
Presence in Ireland: Allergan’s current Mayo site is the largest in the company and was established in 1977. It is now home to both a Sterile Pharmaceutical Ophthalmic Plant and a Biologics Plant. There is approximately 1,500 staff currently employed by Allergan across Ireland with over 1,100 employees based at the Mayo production site alone.
Area/Products: Medical devices
Brief history: 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. It was founded in 1979 with the aim of creating less invasive medical devices and procedures; they continue to innovate across expanding areas of medicine. Their revenue in 2019 was $10.73 billion and they currently employ approximately 36,000 people across 40 countries.
Presence in Ireland: Boston Scientific has had a manufacturing presence in Ireland since 1994. There are currently three manufacturing sites in Cork, Galway, and Tipperary. Established in 1994, the Galway site is the largest in the country providing research and development, manufacturing, regulatory affairs and new product development. The Cork site was opened in 1998 and manufactures a range of devices across several areas of the business.
In Tipperary, they have a focus on development, manufacture, and distribution of defibrillators and pacemakers – the Cardiac Rhythm Management area is an area of high potential and growth for the company. They currently have around 4,700 employees across Ireland.
Brief history: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, describing itself as a “science-led global healthcare company”. GSK took its current form in 2000 after a merger between SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome, and in 2019 it ranked as the ninth-biggest pharmaceutical company in the world based on revenue. Their products fall into three main areas – vaccines, pharmaceuticals and consumer healthcare. It is estimated that one GSK vaccine is administered every minute across Ireland.
Presence in Ireland: GSK currently employs over 900 people in Ireland with manufacturing sites in Sligo and Waterford. Products manufactured at their Waterford site account for approx 10% of all GSK Consumer Healthcare sales, while their manufacturing site in Sligo produces over 40 skincare formulations.
Brief history: Lilly was founded in 1876 in the USA. Lilly currently markets products in multiple disease areas including cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia, depression and many more. Their products are available in over 135 countries around the world, and they employ 33,800 people globally. Their revenue in 2019 totalled over $22.00 billion.
Presence in Ireland: Lilly established manufacturing in Ireland with a site in Cork in 1978. This site still produces active pharmaceutical ingredients for products across the Lilly portfolio in three main areas: small molecule API manufacture and supply; small molecule commercialization; biopharmaceutical commercialization and supply. Lilly employs over 1,300 people in Ireland across two divisions with 900 of these employed at the manufacturing site at Kinsale, Cork.
Area/Products: Medical devices
Brief history: Medtronic began as a medical supply repair shop in the US in 1949, and their first commercial product was a battery-powered, wearable pacemaker. From then on, they have focussed on technology as a means of improving treatment.
In 2014, Medtronic bought Irish company Covidien to further expand their scope and they are now the top medical device company in the world. Globally, Medtronic employs over 90,000 people in over 150 countries.
Presence in Ireland: Medtronic moved into Ireland in 1999 and have three manufacturing sites. Galway is home to two sites at Mervue and Parkmore with over 2,000 people employed over both these sites. The third site is a former Covidien manufacturing site in Westmeath – employing over 500 people in total.
Area/Products: Healthcare company
Brief history: Following their merger with Schering-Plough in 2009, MSD is the world’s fifth-largest pharmaceutical company with operations in over 140 countries. They produce a wide range of products including vaccines and prescription medications for disease areas including diabetes, HIV, hepatitis C, oncology, and osteoporosis.
Presence in Ireland: MSD began production in Ireland in 1976. Today, they employ over 1,800 across four sites in Ireland. The original facility in Tipperary now employs in excess of 600 people in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. In Dublin, a range of pharmaceuticals are manufactured and packaged, as well as sites in animal health and the global financial services division. They also have a new site in Carlow which specializes in human vaccine production. Finally, they support a BioPharma centre of excellence in Cork. In April 2015, they announced plans for a further €11.5 million investment in their Carlow site and in July 2019, announced a further 300 new jobs.
Brief history: Parent company, Novartis AG, is a global healthcare company based in Switzerland, established in its current form in 1996 from the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. They are seen as having one of the strongest pharmaceutical pipelines, currently reporting 140 treatments in clinical development.
Their pharmaceuticals treat disease areas such as neurology, oncology, ophthalmology and metabolism along with many more. Novartis Ireland Limited is the Irish affiliate of this company – Novartis Ireland’s group sales in 2019 were reported as $112 million.
Presence in Ireland: Novartis was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to come to Ireland in the 1950s. Today, Novartis employs over 1,000 people at its API and Intermediates Manufacturing site at Ringaskiddy, Cork.
Brief history: Pfizer was first established in 1849 as a fine-chemicals business in New York and has grown to become the world’s biggest biopharmaceutical company through both pipeline development and acquisition. Pfizer has treatments in many prominent disease areas and therapies in most high-growth markets. In 2019, Pfizer’s revenue was reported as $51.75 billion, making it the number one pharmaceutical company in the world.
Presence in Ireland: Pfizer was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to move into Ireland, in 1969. Pfizer currently employs approximately 2,150 people across sites in Cork, Dublin, and Kildare. Their manufacturing operations include active pharmaceutical ingredients, solid dose pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, and nutritionals.
Area/Products: Medical devices
Brief history: Founded by an orthopedic surgeon in the U.S in 1941, Dr Stryker was aiming to make products that met his patients’ healthcare needs. Stryker continues in the field of medical technology with a focus on surgical devices and is now one of the biggest such companies in the world. They currently employ over 36,000 people worldwide.
Presence in Ireland: Stryker has five plants across Ireland – four in Cork and one in Limerick, plus a site in Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Instruments plants in Cork develop surgical instruments and associated technology, employing over 2,200 people while their site in Limerick is home to over 750 employees.
So there you have it, 10 of the biggest pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the world, employing large numbers of people and investing a lot of money in Ireland and its industry.
Is a Pharma Career or MedTech Career Right for You?
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