Over 130 jobs have been saved after a US pharmaceutical giant reversed its decision to axe production at a key Irish plant.
Pfizer will now continue drug production at its Little Island facility in Cork, which had been earmarked for closure later this year. The loss of the plant would have cost 130 jobs.
The firm indicated that it expected demand for a key product - the cholesterol drug, Altorvastatin, better known by its brand name, Lipitor - to continue to increase globally.
Demand for the drug, which helps reduce cholesterol levels in users, will now underpin continued production and employment at the Cork plant.
The firm had signalled in May 2013 that the Little Island facility would either be sold off or closed as part of a major overhaul of its Irish and worldwide production resources. The deadline was subsequently extended to next October.
Pfizer also sold off production plants in Ringaskiddy, where its main Irish manufacturing is based, six years ago. Two of those plants were purchased by other pharmaceutical and chemical firms and continue in operation.
In a statement, Pfizer said it had revised its decision on the Little Island plant, which was now considered to have an important production role for the firm.
But it said that, given the challenging conditions on the global market, its production capacity and resources would remain under constant review.
Pfizer praised its Cork-based staff for their achievements in terms of delivering enhanced efficiencies, cost-cutting, greater flexibility and overall competitiveness.
Fianna Fáil finance spokesman and Cork TD, Michael McGrath, welcomed the decision and said Pfizer was of "enormous economic importance to the entire south-west economy".
Pfizer employs over 3,200 people in Ireland. It cut 150 jobs at its Kildare operation in 2013 as well as almost 200 jobs across its Cork plants in 2012.