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Minister for Health Simon Harris talking to reporters on Friday.
Minister for Health Simon Harris talking to reporters on Friday.
Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Simon Harris defends Irish-based American pharmaceuticals following Trump criticism

US President Donald Trump made a pledge to bring Irish-based US pharmaceutical companies back to the US.
May 4th 2020, 4:17 PM 72,183 107

Updated May 4th 2020, 4:48 PM

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said that he hopes and expects Ireland’s close economic relationship to continue after US President Donald Trump made a pledge to bring Irish-based US pharmaceutical companies back to the country within two years.

Trump made the comments as he launched his re-election campaign, during which he called previous presidents “foolish” and “stupid” for allowing US pharmaceutical companies to manufacture products abroad.

“It’s not only China. You take a look at Ireland, they make our drugs. Everybody makes our drugs except us,” he said.

Harris insisted that Ireland and the US have a two-way relationship, suggesting that part of Trump’s comments should be seen in the context of the looming US presidential election.

During an interview with TheJournal.ie, due to be published this evening, he said:

“We obviously do well in terms of the employment. But equally those companies are very well looked after too. And I think the world over people look to Ireland as a good base to do business, and also the access that being based in Ireland gives you to a very large market that is the European Union.”

“There’s many Irish companies in the states now employing American people as well so I think the US and Ireland have always had a very close and special relationship. Both socially and historically but also economically I’d hope and expect that will continue,” he added.

“We’re bringing that whole supply chain back. Nobody has to tell me to do it, I’ve been talking about that for years,” Trump said. 

Trump, who was speaking at a two-hour long Fox News “town hall” meeting, claimed that 94% of the country’s medicines were made abroad, saying he hoped to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the US within two years.

On the issue of supply chains, Harris said that he was not aware of any supply chain issues that had arisen from a US pharmaceutical company based here. 

“President Trump sometimes says things that can’t be backed up by fact so I haven’t seen any evidence of that. In fact the supply chains in this country and across the European Union have been really robust during this difficult period of time,” Harris said. 

“We’re running our Covid-19 strategy very much based on public health and fact,” he said.

Trump is doing poorly in most polls ahead of the November presidential contest against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who remains in his Delaware home.

The president faces criticism for his bruising, divisive style during a time of national calamity. He has also been criticised for his early response to the Covid-19 virus.

There are over one million confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US, with nearly 69,000 deaths recorded from the virus. 

Earlier today, Irish ambassador to the US Daniel Mulhalhas defended the presence of American pharmaceutical companies in Ireland as “benefiting” both nations.

Mulhall responded to Trump on Twitter, saying there are more than 750 US companies with investments in Ireland from where they export to the EU and beyond, adding supply chains have remained functioning during the pandemic.

“These companies’ profits benefit the US economy. Supply chains between #Ireland & the #USA for pharma & medical products have remained fully functional during #COVID-19,” he tweeted.

With reporting from Christina Finn

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Dominic McGrath

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