Emerald shoots…!?

Pharma industry waters Ireland’s green shoots!

The Taoiseach (Head of Government of Ireland) yesterday said something that sounds like an optimistic statement about our economy!
“….I want to explain to you tonight that we are making real progress, and that we have a way out that is working,” Mr Cowen said.

Taoiseach Cowan presents some Irish green shoots!

Taoiseach Cowan presents some Irish green shoots!

“And it’s not just me or my party colleagues who are saying that. The ESRI (Economic & Social Research Institute) and other commentators are now predicting that the decisions taken by the Government, allied with the flexibility of our economy and our people in reacting to the crisis, means that we are positioned to return to growth, even rapid growth, as the world economy turns, as early as next year….”

As Charles Dickens might have said, “a consumation devoutly to be wished!” though as opposition party spokespeople pointed out, there is an election (for Local Authorities and European Parliament) on June 5th 2009!

Coincidentally, we received the latest PharmaManufacturing.com e-news yesterday evening which headlined, “Irish Pharma Weathers the Storm with Innovation!”. I had not heard the Taoiseach’s remarks when it arrived so naturally, as an item of good news, and particularly good news about Ireland I clicked all the relevent links!

Ther are two articles there on Ireland. One a sort of colour piece on Ireland entitled “Enterprising Ireland: a Video Travelogue”. The by line says “Even during very challenging economic times, Ireland sees its focus on quality and innovation and an excellent scientific workforce as distinct competitive advantages. Senior digital editor Michele Vaccarello Wagner recently toured the island and interviewed some of those who are moving its life sciences agenda forward.”

Essentially it is the impressions of the writer on her visit to Ireland during which she visited a number of enterprises. That Ireland should be visited by a journalist from a pharma publication is not that remarkable since she is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s leading manufacturing bases and has attracted huge levels of investment from the industry despite having little tradition of domestic manufacturing. Most Big Pharma companies have production facilities all over the country. More recently there have been some job losses here as markets changed and manufacturing opportunities opened in other parts of the globe. Nevertheless as Ms Wagner says, “… many new investments have been made in Ireland, particularly in the biotech field. Companies such as Pfizer, Wyeth and Amgen have invested millions in establishing new biotech plants in Ireland in recent years, helping create permanent jobs and further stimulate the economy.”

In all she spent a good week here visiting plants and educational establishments in the south and east of the country. As an Irish person I find it interesting to get “another angle” on things as she see them.

The second article is an interview with John Clark of Athlone Laboratories, a plant in the middle of the country. As generic manufacturers take on increased importance in global pharma, serialization and track and trace efforts must meet their needs. He describes their investigations and solutions as they take a lead in improving and upgrading traceability of pharma products from manufacturing to end user.

The Pharma and BioPharma sector is very important in the Irish industrial scene. There are nearly 25000 people in this sector alone, no small figure in a state with a population of around 4.3 million. This was recognised in the two Pharmatex Conferences in which Read-out had a part in organising from the automation point of view. In 2007 an extrememly successful day long seminar on “Wireless in the Pharma Industry” and in 2008, a half day seminar on “Industrial Communications”.

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