Merck Sharpe & Dohme (Ireland) Ltd.
A Global Company in a Local Community
In Ireland, favourable policy conditions, set by successive Irish governments, have fostered a climate conducive to pharmaceutical investment and business innovation. Ireland's sound and balanced fiscal, social and environmental policies are complemented by the availability of a highly skilled and educated workforce. "Ireland accounts for just one per cent of Europe's population, yet it receives one quarter of all US foreign investment capital destined for Europe. Almost every firm has demonstrated its satisfaction with Ireland in the most tangible way of all - by reinvesting," said Mr. Ray V. Gilmartin, CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.
Merck Sharp & Dohme (Ireland) Ltd. is a subsidiary of Merck & Co. Inc., one of the largest and most successful pharmaceutical companies in the world. The Irish manufacturing facility, established in 1976, is based on 188 acres at Ballydine, Co. Tipperary and currently employs over 450 people including process operators, technicians, chemists, engineers and IT specialists.
David Brazil, Senior Chemist, analysing a product sample
in the Technical operations Laboratory
As the foremost Merck facility of its kind within the European Union, the plant produces bulk active ingredients for a wide range of healthcare products. These ingredients are exported to other Merck facilities around the world where they are formulated into tablets, capsules and other dosage forms and distributed to the markets.
Room attendant Tony O'Brien monitoring the
is an organic synthesis plant where production is carried out in two phases:
'wet' and 'dry'. In the 'wet' phase, liquid and solid raw materials are
mixed and processed. The final product is then refined and packaged in the
'dry' or finishing section. A typical product manufacturing cycle includes
chemical reaction, extraction, separation, distillation, filtration and
isolation stages in the wet section, followed by drying, milling, blending
and packaging in the dry area before dispatch to the finished products warehouse.
As a multi-product site, Ballydine can effectively, "turn around from one set of vessels to another to make different products," said Declan Buckley, General Manager of the Ballydine plant. "Our flexibility over single product or 'dedicated' sites has always been a distinct advantage for us." Plant flexibility is critical to bulk chemical manufacturing sites, as investment and capital costs are invariably higher in production rather than finishing sites.
Aerial view of Merck Sharpe & Dohme (Ireland) Ltd.'s plant near the River Suir, between Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.
most aggressive step to date in Ballydine's history was the completion of
its two-year capacity expansion project last year, which increased production
by 50 per cent. "The expansion was made necessary by the increasing
worldwide demand for Merck & Co. Inc.'s products," Mr. Buckley
noted. "The decision to locate the 130 million development at
Ballydine was influenced by Ireland's favourable economic and business climate,
and the confidence of Merck Senior Management in its Irish workforce."
According to Mr John Condon, Human Resources and Public Relations Director, Ballydine seeks to employ the best people, providing them with challenging work, development programmes and divisional assignments. "Our work force's ability to manage change effectively is due largely to the Irish education system, where students receive a broad education which helps them develop adaptability, not only in their personal, but also in their professional lives."
Securing Ballydine's future is heavily dependent upon the educational system meeting its growing demands for highly skilled labour. However, Ballydine's expansion falls against the backdrop of reducing numbers of students taking science subjects for the Leaving Certificate. The Technology Foresight Report released last year stated that, "the falling numbers taking physics and chemistry is potentially the biggest long-term threat to Ireland's ability to develop a knowledge based society."
The major challenge is for educational institutions and the pharmaceutical industry to communicate to both students and parents the diverse range of career opportunities available for students of science and technology subjects. The stereotypical attitude of 'scientists wearing white coats in a lab' must be broken to ensure the consistent supply of high-class graduates from schools and colleges throughout the country.
|MSD has been in Ireland nearly 25 years now and has grown steadily over those years as the article above shows. John Condon, Director of Human Affairs, was the first industrialist to support the new Chemistry in Action! in 1980 and MSD has been a consistent sponsor ever since, as well as an employer of many chemists and chemical engineers. MSD is typical of the thriving, high-tech companies that make up Ireland's booming fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector.|