Big jump in British pharma moving functions to Ireland says consultancy

Busy Irish sector faces staffing challenges (stock photo)

Fearghal O'Connor

International consultancy Pharmalex has seen a major jump in the number of drug manufacturers moving parts of their business from Britain to Ireland.

The volume of transfers in the industry between the two countries is putting the capacity of the Irish pharmaceutical industry under pressure, said John Cahill, a director at the company's Irish office.

In the past year it has been involved in more than 30 individual Brexit-related projects involving a transfer of operations from entities in the UK to Ireland, said Cahill.

The projects have included the transfer of manufacturing, testing, batch release responsibilities and marketing authorisation responsibilities between the two countries.

Prior to Brexit, Pharmalex had not been requested to handle any such projects but it has now become a key part of its business in Ireland. Other projects have included distribution support for pharma companies relocating from the UK to Ireland, as well as Brexit contingency planning and readiness checks for Irish and multinational companies preparing for March 29.

"While this operational shift by these UK businesses has been welcomed, it is a challenge to find the capacity and resources in the Irish pharma sector to sustain this transfer," said Cahill.

"In particular, the ability to attract and retain critical personnel, with suitable qualifications to support these operations, is becoming a challenge nationally."

Pharmalex, which has offices in 14 countries, had "observed an increasing urgency in 2018 of companies in the UK transferring responsibilities into the Republic of Ireland to ensure their operations are compliant with EU regulations post Brexit", said Cahill.