The changing face of the pharmaceutical industry

By Mark McDonald, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers (Dublin North)

Friday, November 14th, was a good day for the Irish jobs market with the announcement from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) of the creation of 400 new jobs at their Cruiserath facility in Dublin. The new jobs will be in a purpose-built biologics pharmaceutical facility. This is the latest big announcement regarding biologics and comes after considerable speculation within the sector that the trend is now moving from conventional chemical-based drugs over to a natural alternative.

Mark McDonald
Mark McDonald, Career Coach Tel: +353 86 3812 555

What does this mean for the Irish pharmaceutical professionals of the future?

It’s time to take a long-term view. Chemistry may not be the most suitable qualification required to begin a career in this new sector. Biologics, by definition, involves naturally-occurring drug ingredients made from enzymes as opposed to their chemical-based alternatives. It has been widely speculated that the global industry may migrate towards this type of biologic product for two reasons.

Firstly, the market is essentially saturated with chemical-based pharmaceutical products for most illnesses and secondly, a large portion of these products have come to the end of their patent (patent cliff) which means that generic suppliers can now offer a cheaper, non-branded alternative. This has driven the proposed move towards biologics, essentially creating a new global market.

Second- and third-level students hoping to enter this industry should speak to their career advisors and look at course options. I’m not saying that the pharmaceutical sector as we know it will disappear overnight, but simply to say that this announcement from BMS could be the beginning of a new trend within the sector in Ireland.

Those hoping to develop a career in pharmaceuticals should seek as much advice as they can and make their academic decisions based on the information they amass.  Biotechnology and bioengineering, as opposed to pure chemistry, may offer worthwhile routes for graduates hoping to enter the new sector.

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I would encourage students hoping to pursue a career in pharmaceutical manufacturing to research as much as they can before committing to a particular third-level discipline. Write or email established companies and ask advice about graduate entry criteria.

Ask a question on their social media channels. Speak to friends and relations who may already work in the sector. Use your career advisors who may have personal contacts within the sector. Keep an eye on media outlets who will report on changing industry trends.

BMS and Pfizer in Dublin and the newly-opened Alexion facility in Athlone have now adopted this new technology. Others may follow or choose to remain within their existing product range. Either way, as a student hoping to enter the industry, you must assess your options and make decisions which will support your career in the long term.


Mark McDonald is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Dublin North. You can read more about him, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.

More articles from his blog can be accessed HERE