UK departure 'an opportunity for Ireland to become pharma gateway to EU'
Ireland can become the regulatory gateway to the EU for pharmaceuticals - but must safeguard its €3.22bn annual exports to the UK, according to an industry expert.
Some 30,000 people are directly employed in the pharmaceutical industry here, and all of the world's top 10 companies have substantial operations in Ireland.
In the past fortnight, global firm PCI Pharma Services has cited Brexit as a reason behind plans to create up to 130 jobs in Co Louth and Co Meath.
Separately, Chinese firm WuXi Biologics also announced it would create 400 jobs with a €325m investment in Dundalk, Co Louth.
Pharmaceutical regulation means separate regimes may apply in the EU and UK post-Brexit, and the supply of medicines could be disrupted without proper planning.
"Brexit is a huge opportunity for Ireland to accommodate companies who previously saw the UK as their gateway to Europe," said Ann McGee, a 30-year veteran in advising and supporting pharmaceutical companies.
"These companies are now going to need a European regulatory base because every batch of product released has to be signed off by a qualified person based in the EU - a role defined by EU legislation," she said. "If a product is manufactured in the UK, their qualified person will have no legal standing in the EU."
Ms McGee, the managing director of PharmaLex Ireland, added: "We cannot afford to rely on the hope that there will be a deal, and we must presume that the UK and the EU will now be two separate jurisdictions, which will present huge problems to the pharmaceutical industry.
"As the seventh largest exporter of pharmaceutical products in the world, it makes absolute sense for Ireland to capitalise on this and become the gateway both into and out of the UK."