Call for Ireland to be in top quartile for speed of access to new medicines

Members of Guaranteed Irish, the not-for-profit business membership organisation championing 500+ homegrown and international businesses in Ireland, have called on the Government to set a target for Ireland to be in the top quartile of European countries for speed of access to the latest medicines.

The last decade has seen significant capital investment at pharmaceutical facilities across the country. However, industry leaders and representative bodies present at a recent Guaranteed Irish roundtable discussion – including IDA Ireland, the Irish Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association, MSD Ireland and BioPharmaChem Ireland – raised a number of challenges facing the industry, including the slow access to new medicines, a lack of highly skilled graduates and fierce international competition for foreign direct investment.

In particular, discussion focused on the need to future-proof Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry, which directly employs over 30,000 people and accounts for 50% of all Irish exports.

To do so, Guaranteed Irish’s members made a series of recommendations, including:

  • Appointing a Chief Innovation Officer to identify suitable new treatments and make them available
  • Funding models that enable pharmaceutical companies to deliver new medicines to Irish patients at the same pace as other European countries
  • Increasing the number of clinical trials to attract greater research and development
  • Introduce more manufacturing apprenticeships, similar to those in Germany and Switzerland, as many roles do not require third-level qualifications

The organisation has developed the outcomes of the roundtable event into a submission paper for Government, outlining the support required to ensure the pharmaceutical sector remains in robust health in Ireland.

Brid O’Connell, CEO of Guaranteed Irish, said: “Ireland remains among the slowest countries in western Europe to deliver the latest innovative medicines, with the result that Irish patients often don’t have access to treatments available to their European counterparts – some of which are being produced at sites in Ireland.

“We are the 7th largest exporter of medicinal and pharmaceutical products in the world, and the range of actions outlined by our members – all industry leaders – will ensure this key sector continues to provide high-tech, exciting career opportunities and contribute to local communities across the country.”

Members of Guaranteed Irish in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors include MSD Ireland, AbbVie, Hollister, Ipsen, Tosara Pharma Ltd, PPL Biomechanics, KCI Medical Ireland and Nutricia Ireland.

Membership of the Guaranteed Irish organisation spans all sectors including pharmaceutical; healthcare; technology; construction; energy; professional services; manufacturing; tourism; food and drink; craft and design; retail; and lifestyle. The organisation considers three core criteria when assessing an applicant for membership – jobs, community and provenance.

In order to meet these criteria, applicants must comply with all labour legislation, and provide fair working conditions to support and care for all of their employees. They must also demonstrate constructive and ongoing engagement with the communities in which the business is based. Lastly, applicants must have their origins in Ireland or be an international business that has embedded itself in Ireland. They must also have a substantial on-the-ground presence in Ireland, with many supporting indigenous spin-off companies.

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