Industrial production plummets as several medicines come off patent
INDUSTRIAL production plunged the most in at least 30 years during the three months to the end of last November, as the economy struggled to deal with a number of medicines coming 'off patent'.
According to figures from the Central Statistics Office, factory output in Ireland fell 2.1pc in November.
That drop meant that between September and November industrial production slumped a seasonally adjusted 14.4pc. That figure represented the biggest quarterly drop since records began more than three decades ago.
Compared to the same period in 2011, production was down 6.8pc.
Most of the fall-off was due to a slump in the pharmaceuticals sector.
Between the months of September and November, the sector produced goods to the value of just under €10.1bn. That figure was down more than 23pc on the previous quarter.
A number of drugs that are manufactured in Ireland have come off patent in the last year, including Pfizer's blockbusting anti-cholesterol treatment Lipitor.
Reputedly the best-selling drug in history, Lipitor's patent reached its expiry in November, and its price is said to have collapsed by more than 90pc as Pfizer competes against generic versions of the same drug.
The drop-off could potentially have massive implications for economic growth during the last quarter of 2012, warned Conaill MacCoille of Davy Stockbrokers.
"Irish industry made a solid 0.8pc contribution to the 1.4pc GDP growth rate in 2011, which looked likely to be repeated in 2012.
"But the contraction in industrial production is likely to push down substantially on GDP in Q4," he said.
Production in the so-called 'modern sector', which includes the hi-tech and chemical industries, fell 2.5pc in November. That translated into a 7.7pc drop year on year.