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Top 10 pharmaceutical companies in Ireland

Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Posted: 14/06/2023

Pharmaceutical companies in Ireland have honed the country’s reputation as a world-renowned leader in life sciences. Thanks to a favourable regulatory environment, Ireland has a well-established and thriving pharmaceutical industry.

Home to a host of large multinationals, pharmaceutical businesses with Irish operations account for more than 5% of global pharma production and saw an increase in value-added output of 25% in 2021.

The sector provides significant employment opportunities for scientists, researchers, engineers, and manufacturing personnel.

Within this article, we have looked at the top 10 pharmaceutical companies that have a strong presence in Ireland. Using declared global revenue figures from 2022, we have listed leading companies that are operating in Ireland as part of the major pharmaceutical hub.

Looking to hire life sciences professionals in Ireland?

Top 10 pharmaceutical companies in Ireland

1 USD = 0.92282 EUR Jun 14, 2023

10. AstraZeneca

2022 Global Revenue: $44.35 Billion | €40.92 Billion

AstraZeneca became a household name following the production of its Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. Two billion doses of the jab were supplied to more than 170, less than 12 months after first approval.

Founded in 1999, AstraZeneca is the result of a British-Swedish merger that created one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, with a focus on research, development, and manufacturing of prescription drugs.

AstraZeneca has made significant investments in Ireland in recent years, including a $400m in advanced manufacturing facility site near Dublin. The Irish operations, which employ around 80 employees, serve as a hub for various business functions, including commercial operations, manufacturing, and research and development. The company’s focus in Ireland is largely concerned with Cardiovascular and Metabolic diseases, Oncology and Respiratory therapy areas.


9. Bristol Myers Squibb

2022 Global Revenue: $46.16 Billion | €42.60 Billion

Bristol Myers Squibb is known for its significant contributions to cancer research and treatment. They have developed and marketed several ground-breaking oncology drugs, which have revolutionised the field of immuno-oncology and improved survival rates for patients with certain types of cancer.

One of the first pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, the company first launched its operations in 1964, and today has a 650-strong workforce operating across multiple functions, including Biologics Manufacturing, External Manufacturing and Commercial.

Their presence in Ireland demonstrates the country's importance as a strategic location for Bristol Myers Squibb’s manufacturing, research, and business operations. In November 2022, the company launched its Cruiserath Biologics site in Dublin, representing a $1bn investment and employing 450 people across the campus.


8. Sanofi

2022 Global Revenue: $46.86 Billion | €43.25 Billion

Headquartered in Paris, France, Sanofi is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It specialises in the research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of a wide range of pharmaceutical products, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vaccines, and consumer healthcare products.

The company are well established in Ireland, having set up their Irish operations more than 20 years ago. The 800-strong workforce develops and manufactures healthcare solutions within many therapeutic areas. This includes consumer self-care, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and thrombosis.

One of the company’s latest releases includes AVAXIM Junior, which was developed to prevent infection in children aged 12 months to 15 years caused by the hepatitis A virus.


7. Novartis

2022 Global Revenue: $50.55 Billion | €46.65 Billion

Based in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis operates in 140 countries and has a diverse portfolio of products spanning various therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, immunology, oncology, neuroscience, ophthalmology and respiratory. The company places significant emphasis on research and development and invests heavily in innovative therapies.

The company has a strong pipeline of new drugs under development, focusing on areas with high unmet medical needs. Their Irish operations are around 1000 people, and Dublin is one of five centres for Global Drug Development hosting over 200 individuals responsible for delivering global clinical trials.

In a statement released in October 2022, a Novartis spokesperson said, “Ireland is an important location for Novartis due to its unique eco-system of highly educated, skilled and adaptable workforce which is critical in the knowledge-intensive, high-science, pharma sector,”


6. Johnson & Johnson

2022 Global Revenue [for Pharma Business]: $52.6 Billion | €48.54 Billion

From baby lotion to mouthwash, Johnson & Johnson has been a staple of bathroom cabinets across the world for more than 135 years. They boast a diverse portfolio including the development of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and consumer packaged goods.

Headquartered in the US, Johnson & Johnson first moved to Ireland in 1935 and is now one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, with ten sites across the country. The organisation is considered one of Ireland’s leading employers, with just under 4,500 across five counties. Pre-tax profits of Jonson and Johnson’s Irish subsidiary almost doubled to €540.97m in 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has continued to heavily invest in Ireland, with the latest announcement earmarking a $100 million to expand its operations in Limerick, which is one of the world's largest contact lens manufacturing sites.


5. Bayer

2022 Global Revenue: $53.88 Billion | €49.71 Billion

Bayer AG, commonly known as Bayer, is a multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company based in Germany. The company operates in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, consumer health, crop science, and animal health.

In addition to these core areas, Bayer is involved in research and development efforts to advance scientific and medical innovation. They collaborate with academic institutions, healthcare organisations, and other partners to address various global health challenges.

Employing over 100 people, Bayer’s Irish operations are headquartered in Dublin and have been for almost 50 years. The Pharmaceuticals function has a key focus on prescription products, particularly in women’s healthcare and cardiology.


4. AbbVie

2022 Global Revenue: $58.05 Billion | €53.56 Billion

AbbVie is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in North Chicago, Illinois and was established as a spin-off from Abbott Laboratories in 2013. AbbVie operates independently with a primary emphasis on biopharmaceutical research and development. It’s recognised for specialist expertise in immunology, oncology, neuroscience, virology, and general medicine.

Having established its operations in Ireland in 1970, the company has gone on to develop a significant footprint, employing around 2,600 people across eight sites. One of the largest sites is a ‘bulk tablet’ manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Cork is a 14,000 sq. m “state-of-the-art”, multi-purpose facility, which was earmarked for a further €60M investment in 2022.

AbbVie was named ‘Biopharma Company of the Year’ at the 2021 Irish Pharma Industry Awards.


3. Merck & Co.

2022 Global Revenue: $59.28 Billion | €54.69 Billion

Merck & Co., Inc., commonly known as Merck, was founded in 1891. The US-based company is headquartered in Kenilworth, New Jersey but operates in more than 140 countries and employs over 71,000 people worldwide.

The organisation has a long-standing history in vaccine development and has played a crucial role in the development and distribution of vaccines against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and more recently, COVID-19.

As a pharmaceutical company in Ireland, Merck & Co. operates as Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), which is the company's international division. They operate several manufacturing facilities across Ireland, located in County Carlow, County Cork, and County Tipperary. They continue to invest in the country with an additional 100 jobs added to the Carlow operations, as per an announcement in August 2022.


2. Roche

2022 Global Revenue: $69.77 Billion | €64.35 Billion

Ranked as one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, Roche is based in Basel, Switzerland. Over the course of their 125-year-long history, they have become particularly well-known for advanced instruments and reagents used in clinical laboratories. This enables healthcare professionals to perform accurate and timely diagnostic tests. They are also recognised for comprehensive diagnostic solutions for managing diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Roche’s Irish operations are made up of Roche Products Ireland Ltd and Roche Ireland Ltd which employ a total of 300 people across the country. Featuring in the top 500 companies to work for and top 50 in Pharma in The Irish Times Top 1000, the company have undergone changes to its corporate strategy that has impacted work undertaken in the county.


1. Pfizer

2022 Global Revenue: $100.3 Billion | €92.5 Billion

Pfizer has long been considered a pharmaceuticals juggernaut. The business was established by German cousins in New York, Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart in 1849. The company now has more than 83,000 employees across 39 manufacturing sites and 11 distribution centres, and played an active role in the fight against COVID-19.

Another early entrant to Ireland’s long pharmaceutical legacy, Pfizer has been operational in Ireland since 1969 and has invested more than $9bn over the last five decades. Medicines manufactured in Ireland are now distributed to more than 100 countries worldwide.

Recognised as one of the country’s leading employers, Pfizer has 5000 employees across five sites in Dublin, Cork and Kildare. More than 400 additional jobs are expected to be created with a $1.26 billion expansion of its manufacturing at its plant in Dublin in 2027.

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