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€19bn worth of Irish drug exports at risk as drug patents expire

A predicted fall-off in exports due to patent expiration could account for a sales drop as large as 52 per cent by 2013.

File photograph of the drug Lipitor
File photograph of the drug Lipitor
Image: Mel Evans/AP/Press Association Images

IRELAND’S MULTI-BILLION EURO pharmaceutical export industry could be facing a serious crisis because of a series of patents that are due to expire.

Chris van Egeraat, lecturer of economic geography at NUI Maynooth, estimated that about €19 billion worth of Irish exports could be at risk as a result of patents expiring. Van Egeraat told Bloomberg: “From the moment they come off patent, it will be immediately reflected in export figures.”

The fall-off in exports could account for a 52 per cent drop in sales by 2013, according to Bloomberg.

According to PharmaChemical Ireland, Ireland is the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals and medical products in the world – with the country’s pharmaceutical industry currently generating 50 per cent of the total amount of the nation’s exports.

Eight of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies have Irish facilities.

Pfizer’s cholesterol-fighting drug Lipitor is the first product due to expire, with the deadline marked for the end of this month. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is planning to sell the drug at generic prices directly to customers once the patent runs out.

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Video uploaded PharmaChemcial via YouTube

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