MSD opens expanded Irish medicine plants following €1bn investment

Taoiseach welcomes move as new operations open in Dunboyne and Carlow

Medicines giant MSD has officially opened expanded facilities at its Carlow vaccines plant as well as a new biologics unit in Dunboyne, Co Meath.

The company, known in the United States as Merck, said the two projects represented a recent investment of more than €1 billion, creating an additional 670 jobs in MSD’s Irish network of plants and bringing its total Irish workforce to 3,100.

The company said it was actively recruiting for more than 100 of those jobs across a range of areas, including engineering, science, manufacturing operations, quality and more.

At the official opening ceremony, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the investment “reinforces the Government’s commitment to balanced regional development, and further enhances Ireland’s global status in the pharmaceutical sector”.


Sanat Chattopadhyay, MSD executive vice-president and president of its manufacturing division, said the expansion was “another new chapter in our long-standing legacy in Ireland”.

He said the plants in Carlow and Dunboyne were both pivotal components of MSD’s global operations. “These two facilities will yield substantial enhancements to our manufacturing capabilities, enabling our global network to better address the always-evolving demand for vaccines and medicines worldwide,” he said.

Carlow was MSD’s first vaccines site outside the US when it was opened in 2008. It now operates as a filling site for both new and existing MSD vaccines, biologics medicines and older generation small molecule drugs.

The company acquired the Dunboyne site from Takeda in 2020 after the Japanese drug company announced its intention to offload the recently built biologics unit it had acquired as part of its €56 billion takeover of Shire Pharmaceuticals.

Specialising in providing drug substance for clinical trials and early phase development, it is understood to be the US drug giant’s first such plant outside the US. The latest investment was focused on developing a new research facility next to the biologics manufacturing plant in a move the company says will significantly accelerate the time it takes to bring a medicine to market.

IDA Ireland chief executive Michael Lohan said the investment was most welcome and “underscores Ireland’s growth as a global hub of excellence in life sciences research and manufacturing”.

MSD has seven sites in Ireland, including at Ballydine in Co Tipperary and Brinny, Co Cork in addition to Carlow, Dunboyne and Dublin where, among other things, it manufactures the company’s blockbuster cancer drug, Keytruda, in Swords. About half of the group’s top 20 medicines are manufactured in the State.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times