The Irish Pharmaceutical Industry Landscape – 2016

The Irish Pharmaceutical Industry Landscape – 2016

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Pharma-ireland, mcgeepharma,This year, Ireland marks the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, a seminal moment on Ireland’s journey to independence.  The small island of Ireland has grown in those 100 years, now recognised as one of the top countries in the world in which to do business.   In 2016, Ireland has become one of the leading locations for the pharmaceutical industry in the world.

The pharmaceutical industry is relatively new to the Irish economy. Since the birth of the sector in 1959 when Leo Laboratories set up a manufacturing operation in Dublin, the pharmaceutical sector has grown exponentially. In 2005, there were only 2,500 people employed in the sector, where today there are nearly 25,000 directly employed, with an additional 25,000 providing supporting services to the sector.

The Irish pharmaceutical sector is highly advanced incorporating the latest technology, state of the art equipment and strict quality control procedures. Recent years have also seen the rise international companies setting up research centres throughout Ireland, as well as engaging in joint research projects with Irish universities. Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry offers a wide range of products and services, from research and development for new medicines to the manufacturing and marketing of new medicines for humans and animals.


Here is a snapshot of Ireland’s Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry:



  • Ireland is the 7th largest exporter of medicinal and pharmaceutical products in the world (2014)
  • Ireland is now the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the EU accounting for over 50% of all exports from the country. In 2014 the sector exported products to the value of €64 billion.
  • The replacement value of the sector is estimated to be €40 billion.
  • Approximately 120 overseas companies have plants in Ireland
  • Ireland has 9 of the top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with operations throughout the country.
  • The sector contributes more than €1 billion in corporation tax to the Irish Exchequer annually.
  • The industry has significantly diversified in recent years with 10 new facilities dedicated to the manufacturing of therapeutic proteins or vaccines.
  • The international research-based pharmaceutical industry has invested over €7 billion in the last ten years in Ireland.
  • The sector was worth 50.8 billion in 2010, a 7.3% increase from 47.3 billion in 2009.



  • The Irish biotech companies’ employ 6,600.
  • Recent investments of over 3 billion from global leading biotech companies have embedded Ireland as a leading location for the development and manufacturing of biologics.
  • Forecast figures show that employment in biotech companies will reach over 11,000 by 2018.
  • The Biopharmaceutical industry has made a capital investment of approximately €8 billion in new facilities in Ireland, most of which has come in the last 10 years.



  • 46% of pharma employees are third-level graduates.
  • 30% year on year growth in employment since 2008.
  • 25% of all PhD researchers in Irish industry are employed in the sector.
  • In 2008, 2 out of every 5 pharmaceutical jobs created in Europe were in Ireland.


Ireland’s intellectual property laws provide companies with generous incentives to innovate. In conjunction, the Irish tax system which offers a highly competitive corporate tax rate of 12.5 % is a major incentive. No tax is paid on earnings from intellectual property where the underlying R&D work was carried out in Ireland.

Ireland recently introduced a new R&D Tax Credit, designed to encourage companies to undertake new and/or additional R&D activity in Ireland. It covers wages, elated overheads, plant/machinery and buildings. Stamp duty on intellectual property rights has been abolished.


Source: Forbes, IPHA, IDA Ireland, PCI, Department of Trade and Employment, WHO, Enterprise Ireland


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