Pharma giant MSD to lay off 70 people in Cork

Move connected to change in company strategy that demands different skills

Pharma giant MSD is to lay off 70 people at its plant in Brinny, Co Cork, which represents about 10 per cent of the workforce at the facility.

MSD, a subsidiary of the top US pharma group Merck, was established in the Republic more than 50 years ago. It currently employs 2,800 people across six sites in Brinny, Carlow, Tipperary, Meath, and Dublin.

The plant in Brinny has been in operation for more than 35 years and is a strategic site within the global MSD network. There are 700 staff there.

The company has informed staff that a voluntary redundancy scheme is to be opened. A consultation process with staff and unions is under way and is expected to last several weeks.


It’s understood the lay-offs are connected to a change of strategy by the company. While in recent years it has focused on the development and commercial supply of biotech products, it is now specialising in the development and manufacture of vaccines.

As part of that process, there has been a change in the company’s requirements around skills. It’s understood the job losses will be among operator technicians, quality control staff, craft technicians, and several roles in operational and support functions.


None of the company’s other sites are affected by the move, and it is understood the future of the site in Brinny is not in question.

In a statement, the company said the lay-offs were part of a re-evaluation of the group’s resources.

“As part of the ongoing evolution at MSD Brinny, the site continuously evaluates resourcing across all its operations to ensure optimum skills, resources and expertise are in place to support the business,” it said.

“MSD Brinny today announced a reduction in its total workforce of approximately 70. Today’s announcement is a key part of MSD Brinny’s evolving site strategy to ensure continued viability for the long term.”

MSD said it was “committed to Ireland” and noted that it has invested more than $4 billion in its Irish operations to date.

“Our annual turnover ranks us as one of Ireland’s top 20 companies,” it said. “MSD Irish sites manufacture approximately half of MSD’s top 20 products, helping save and enhance lives in over 60 countries around the world.”

The plant in Brinny has previously produced some of MSD’s most successful treatments for oncology, Hepatitis C, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter