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Sandoz fully launches in Ireland with plans to grow biosimilars business

Following a 30-year joint venture, Sandoz, the world’s largest generics and biosimilars company, has acquired full ownership of Rowex.

Rowex has been operating in Bantry, Co. Cork, since 1993 and is one of the leading players in the Irish OTC and generics market.

Sandoz will invest in the business with the aim of becoming a top-three off-patent medicine company in Ireland by 2028. The largest growth driver will be the launch of biosimilars, cost-effective copies of biologic medicines.

Sandoz was the first company to launch a biosimilar in 2006, and has significant expertise in marketing eight biosimilars as well as having a further 25 in development making the company the global leader in this area. Recent large-scale investments include a new $400m biosimilars development hub in Slovenia as well as a new partnership with Just EvoTech for biosimilar development and commercial manufacturing.

In recent years the HSE medicines budget has increased from €1.3 billion in 2012 to €3.2 billion last year and current spending being deemed “not sustainable” by the Department of Health[1]. Greater uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines, which are below the European average, could help bring spending back to affordable levels.

Biosimilar competition has emerged through the Best Value Biologic initiative, with particular success in three medicines delivering an estimated savings of €22.7m in 2020 alone. With a recently expanded list of 14 biologic medicines covered by the BVB programme, there is a significant opportunity for the Irish healthcare system to unlock savings and open up access for Irish patients.

Sandoz, trading as Rowex, will continue to be based in Bantry but with an expanding field-based workforce, including a new biosimilars sales team. This is in addition to shared business support functions from the Sandoz UK operation, which will help accelerate growth through shared expertise and resource.

Joe Keane, Head of Operations for Sandoz in Ireland, said ““We are delighted that, after a long and fruitful partnership through the Rowex joint venture, Sandoz has made the positive step to invest in the future growth of a leading Irish business. We are excited to bring more of Sandoz’s leading portfolio to Ireland, in particular its leading pipeline of biosimilars which offer a huge savings opportunity for the Irish healthcare system”.

[1] Health service’s spending on costly drugs ‘not sustainable’ (

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