Why Ireland Attracts the Top Pharmaceutical Companies

women in lab

It might surprise you to learn that nine out of ten of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are established in Ireland. Why is this? Well, pharma companies enjoy the benefits of an English-speaking population, a friendly business environment and a favourable tax environment, and a well-educated workforce.

For those planning on coming to Ireland, once you can put up with the rain, Ireland is a great place to live. Come to study in Ireland and you’ll enjoy a friendly, safe society with plenty of amenities and a great educational system. It also happens to be a location that has built up a thriving pharmaceutical and med-tech industry.

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What’s attractive about Ireland?

Ireland boasts one of the world’s lowest corporate tax rates at just 12.5%, making it a desirable location for active businesses in Europe as well as the rest of the world. These tax incentives mean that Ireland has one of the lowest statutory corporate tax locations. This has encouraged over one thousand multinational companies to choose the Emerald Isle as their European base.

Pharmaceutical and MedTech focus

Interested in building a career in the life sciences sector? By choosing to study in Ireland, you are putting yourself right in the centre of the industry. Ireland is the largest MedTech employer in Europe; this sector employs over 25,000 people directly, and a further 25,000 are employed providing services to the sector. Similar numbers are also employed in the pharma/biotech industry. As well as corporate tax relief, Ireland also offers a 25% tax credit on qualifying research and development making it a great incentive for pharmaceutical organisations.

Geographical proximity

19 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies are based in Ireland for a good reason. By establishing their manufacturing here, this industry has great geographical proximity to the mainland European markets. Easy international shipping across the Atlantic is very beneficial for pharmaceutical exports to North America. Five of the world’s eight top-selling drugs are produced in Ireland, making it the world’s largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals and a globally recognised centre of excellence in pharma.

High employment rates

The pharmaceutical industry in Ireland benefits from high employment rates and well-educated experts from which to learn. Ireland, in general, boasts a well-skilled, educated English-speaking population; being based in the EU gives people the ability to hire workers from other EU member states also. Over 65% of those employed within the pharma/med-tech sectors have a third-level qualification so it’s a great area for graduates to find employment. Pharma companies are establishing themselves not just in Dublin, but in Cork, Galway, and across the country.

Education Excellence

Ireland is a great place to gain a third-level qualification while also enjoying a vibrant culture. It is one of the most globalised and open economies in the world with over 35,000 international students from over 160 countries choosing to study in Ireland. At Innopharma Education, we have a fantastic record for post-graduate employment with 70%+ of our graduates securing employment within six months of graduation. If you’re interested in benefitting from the expertise of a booming industry and opening the door to your international career, our international courses will give you the boost you need to move your career to the next level.  

Strong US Connection

US companies play a huge role in the Irish pharma industry. Many of the world's largest US Pharma companies have multiple premises around our country. The US companies listed below employ a total of over 19,000 people within Ireland.

  • Johnson & Johnson has been operating in Ireland for over 80 years. The company employs almost 3,000 people in Ireland with locations in Dublin, Limerick and Cork.

  • Pfizer employs over 3,300 people in Ireland in 7 locations including Dublin and Cork. Pfizer joined Ireland in 1969. More than 7 billion dollars has been invested into Pfizer's Irish organisation in its 50 years here.

  • MSD has locations in Dublin, Cork, Carlow and Tipperary. These locations account for almost 60% of the company’s global top 20 products.

  • Amgen joined Ireland in the 1990s. In 2010 they purchased the Pfizer building in Dun Laoghaire where they now employ over 450 staff. There is an additional location in Santry (North Dublin).

  • Abbvie is spread over five sites in Ireland including locations in Sligo, Cork and Dublin employing over 600 people.

  • Lilly has had a presence in Ireland since the 1970s. The company currently employs over 800 Irish people in locations around Dublin and Cork.

  • Gilead currently employs around 300 people in Dublin and Cork, these locations are responsible for distributing the company’s products to the European Union.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb has been operating in Ireland since the 1960s and currently employs around 600 staff in Ireland in locations in Dublin and Shannon.

  • Abbott employs over 3,200 people across 11 sites in Ireland. Some of their locations include Clonmel, Cootehill, Donegal, Longford and Sligo.

  • Biogen employs around 600 staff within their Dublin office in Ireland.

  • Stryker employs over 2,000 employees across four locations in Ireland. The company joined Ireland in 1998 and has locations in Cork and Limerick.

  • Regeneron opened in Dublin in 2013 with their very first facility outside of the US. The company currently employs over 800 Irish staff.

  •  Finally, Alexion opened its first Irish facility in 2013 and now employs over 300 people across Dublin and Athlone.

A Look at the Pharmaceutical Companies in Ireland

There are numerous pharmaceutical companies in Ireland that all lend a significant hand towards bettering the health and wellness industry globally.

From larger corporations that were originally founded in the U.S. (see above) to smaller startups that originated here on the Emerald Isle, there are plenty that contribute to the sector. 

The inside of a pharmacy
    with shelves lined with medications for patients


What’s the Biggest Pharmaceutical Company in Ireland

As of 2022, the U.S. pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, is the biggest pharmaceutical company in Ireland. They boast an employee base of 3,300 people across their 7 locations. 

Another U.S. pharmaceutical company, Abbott, is the second-largest pharmaceutical company in Ireland. With 3,200 employees spread over 11 locations in Ireland, they’re close behind Pfizer. 

Finally, Johnson and Johnson is the third biggest pharmaceutical company in Ireland. They employ 3,000 people in 3 locations in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick. 

How Many Pharmaceutical Companies Are in Ireland

Ireland truly is home to a large number of pharmaceutical companies. In fact, it’s a major pharmaceutical hub for the entire globe. This is an incredible feat because of the small size of the country! There are 85+ pharmaceutical companies that call Ireland home.

What Are Some of the Best Pharmaceutical Companies to Work for in Ireland

With so many options to choose from when it comes to pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, one can only hope to find some of the best companies to work for. 

Based on information from, here are the best businesses in the pharmaceutical industry to work for based on current employee reviews: 

What Jobs Within the Pharmaceutical Industry Are Available

There are numerous jobs within the pharmaceutical industry to choose from. That’s excellent news because there’s surely a match for everyone, no matter where their interests lie. 

Whether someone loves the idea of working directly in the lab, or they want to build relationships with other healthcare professionals, there’s an appropriate job within the field. 

Some of the most popular jobs that are in-demand at these pharma companies include: 

  • quality control and quality assurance to make sure medical devices and medications are up to standard

  • process technicians to work the supply chain and ensure medical devices and medications are made appropriately

  • research and development to lead the healthcare industry in creating devices and medications to save lives

How Can Innopharma Help You Get Started with Pharmaceutical Companies in Ireland

For many careers at most of the pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, you’ll need to have a science-based degree. Innopharma is proud to offer educational opportunities to help you on your career path. 

If you’ve been in the workplace but are looking to make a career change in industries, then a certificate course may be best for you. 

If you’re exploring the idea of a degree in a science-based or life science field to start on a career path in the pharmaceutical industry, a degree programme can help you. 

And finally, if you’ve already got years of work experience and are looking to continue your education in the industry to help you land higher positions in one of the many pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, then a master’s degree may be the step you need. 

Get started with your pharmaceutical courses at Innopharma! 

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