MSD looking for 200 staff across four Irish sites

Drug giant filling a variety of roles in Swords, Carlow, Tipperary and Cork

At $3.3bn the cancer blockbuster drug Keytruda now accounts for more than a quarter of all the sales of MSD’s parent, which trades as Merck in the US and Canada. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds

Pharma company MSD is looking to fill up to 200 roles across its four Irish sites between now and the end of the year.

The sector has been one of the few to find itself immune to the sharp rise in unemployment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown of the economy.

MSD is looking for recruits in the areas of engineering, quality control, environmental health safety and operations, and the company has made clear that it is not confining its search to people already in the sector.

"While we still see a large number of candidates from traditional pharma backgrounds, we're seeing an increasing number of roles being filled by people from beyond pharma," said Ger Brennan, managing director of MSD Human Health.


“Engineering, quality and operations skills and knowledge that have been honed in other industries are increasingly transferable, and we would encourage those interested in playing a significant role in responding to the world’s unmet health needs to get in touch.”

MSD has added almost 500 jobs over the past 15 months, and now employs 2,500 people across it four manufacturing sites – in Swords, Carlow, Ballydine, Co Tipperary, and Brinny in Cork – along with MSD Human Health and MSD Animal Health operations based in Leopardstown, Dublin.

“Our plans for our Irish business remain firmly on track,” said Ger Brennan, who is managing director of MSD Human Health, who added that the 200 jobs currently open were divided equally across the company’s Irish manufacturing operations.

“By the end of 2022 we will have significantly increased our manufacturing footprint, employee base and outputs, playing a role in enhancing Ireland’s position in pharma globally.”

The US drug giant made the announcement in an update to progress on the biotech plant the company is building on its site in north Dublin. MSD Biotech expects to have 350 people working in Swords when it starts production next year of the company’s cancer blockbuster drug Keytruda. Staff numbers on site have just hit 300.

Global sales

Sales of Keytruda globally jumped by 45 per cent in the year to the end of the first quarter of 2020. At $3.3 billion dollars, the drug now accounts for more than a quarter of all the sales of MSD's parent, which trades as Merck in the United States and Canada.

Merck has been looking to ramp up global manufacturing capacity for Keytruda as sales accelerate.

MSD is also currently undertaking a major expansion of its vaccines and biologics operation in Carlow, which was the drug group’s first vaccine manufacturing site outside the United States and produces, among other things, Gardasil, the HPV vaccine.

When it comes onstream in 2022, the Carlow expansion will see a significant increase in vaccine production by MSD in Ireland.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times