FINE Gael Cork South Central Senator, Deirdre Clune, has said the issue of drugs coming off patent is a challenge that has been faced by the pharmaceutical industry for years, but that this fact will do little to soften the blow for the workers affected by the job losses announced at Pfizer today (Wednesday). “The pharmaceutical sector is one that is constantly changing and this issue of drugs coming off patent is one that has been knocking around for a long time, presenting challenges for the industry globally. Nonetheless, these job losses will come as good news to no-one.
“The Government, in its Action Plant for Jobs, has identified the pharmaceutical sector as one with significant potential for growth. It also identified the drugs coming off patents challenge, among others, as one that was very real for companies operating in Ireland, calling for collaboration between lifesciences firms and the healthcare system to ensure the delivery of economic growth and lower healthcare services costs.
“Pfizer has cited a fall in demand for Lipitor, the world’s best selling drug, and increased competition from generic drugs as the reasons for having to lay staff off. This is extremely regrettable.
“The pharmaceutical/biopharmaceuticals sector is well established in Ireland and has seen significant investment in recent years. It is responsible for €39bn in exports and employs 25,000 people. With the help of the State agencies best placed to assist staff, I hope that alternative arrangements, in terms of employment, can be secured.
“The reality is that it is now more difficult than ever to bring new drugs to market due to the nature of the industry and the increases in the numbers of tests to be carried out on products and the number of hoops that, rightfully, have to be jumped through. We must look at what these changes mean for Cork and how best to protect the jobs we have in this area.
“Pfizer continues to invest in Ireland with a €145 million investment announced in its biotechnology manufacturing facility at Grangecastle in Dublin only last September. Sadly, for the workers affected, drugs coming off patent remains a fact of life for this industry, meaning cheaper drugs for some people and job losses for others. We must meet this challenge head-on and find the best ways for industries such as this to diversify and ensure job security for their staff into the future.”