Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pfizer - the end is not nigh!

Now, I am as grumpy a doom-monger as you are likely to meet. I mean, I really will not buy a house in Ireland till someone offers to pay me to take it off their hands; that's how pessimistic I am about the property market, chances of recovery etc.

But even I can't help but feel that the gloom merchants have spun into overdrive on the back of Pfizer's recent announcement of redundancies (275 confirmed and up to 800 potential) in Cork Dun Laoghaire and Kildare

From what I can see, these redundancies are purely on the back of:

1) The merger between Pfizer and Wyeth, and the consequent rationalisation of their workforces, assets etc.

2) Pfizer ensuring that it is lean enough to compete as it's branded drugs (most especially Lipitor) are soon to come off patent and face competition from generic brands capable of offering consumers the exact same health benefits.

Of course, 800 jobs fleeing the Irish economy at this point in time is bad news, and the personal impact is immeasuarable for those who have just been made redundant or are under threat, but the jobs that remain are more secure, and I suspect will be higher up the value chain. What's more, Pfizer's Ireland operations are now well placed to compete for higher-end jobs, especially in the area of R&D.

The real tragedy is not that Pfizer is leaving, but that successive Irish governments did not seize the chance to grow domestic pharma companies on the back of Pfizer's business here. Such an indigenous company would, if successful, not only offer more Life Sciences jobs in Ireland, but would also contribute significantly to our export earnings.

After all, as we know, pharm is "recession proof". OK, not strictly true, but even on the back of the Wyeth acquisition, Pfizer still posted profits of $4.88 billion.

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