While the benefits and rewards medicines provide are huge, so too is the
effort and investment that goes into developing and making a new medicine that
can save lives or radically improve people’s quality of life. By the time a new
medicine reaches patients, it will have typically been in development for up to
twelve years, from the initial stages of identifying and isolating molecules to
three phases of testing, and an ongoing phase of ‘pharmacovigilance’ that
ensures its ongoing safety and ever-improving performance.
In Ireland, over 25,000 people are employed in the pharmaceutical industry
in roles from manufacturing
and from research
to patient education.
In the journey to developing and delivering a medicine, a whole number of
skills and professions are involved along the way, including chemists,
pharmacists, researchers, doctors, engineers, marketers and machine operators.
Every step of the process has to be managed carefully and adhere to strict
regulations, generating many jobs in compliance and quality assurance
throughout every process.
Despite the prolonged economic recession, the industry here remains
relatively resilient and requires a constant stream of science graduates
at secondary, third and post graduate levels. The continuing take-up of science
in schools is critical to sustaining the country’s competitiveness. Industry
has invested heavily in recent years promoting science and the results are
startlingly evident with the increase in the number of students taking science
There are good reasons to consider careers in Ireland’s pharmaceutical
sector. In addition to a wide
diversity of career opportunities, statistics from the CSO show that
workers in the sector earn on average almost 30% more than the national
average. The industry provides a stable and secure career environment for
graduates to gain multinational experience right on their own doorstep and to
participate in the global effort to improve and prolong people’s lives.
Ireland’s success in attracting biotechnology companies here adds another
exciting dimension to the careers on offer. Biotechnology uses biological
systems or cells to make or modify products that can be used as medicines, and
will generate many more medicines in the future, many of which will be personalised
for individual use.
As the industry here moves towards being increasingly knowledge-led in all
its activities, the prospects for employees and the economy are considerable