RECENT investments in the manufacture of new healthcare products at the Roche ( Ireland Ltd ) plant in Clarecastle, will support its parent company in retaining its position among the world’s top ten pharmaceutical companies.
Ennis man, Gerry Cahill, who is managing director of the Clarecastle operation, said since the beginning of the year, they have been manufacturing Madapor, which is used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and later on this year will commence making the newer drug Zelboraf, aimed at treating people with advanced melamoma skin cancer.
The latest developments have been welcomed by the 245 Roche employees in Clarecastle, in addition to the significant number of contractors, who have been taken on to support the new products.
Mr Cahill told The Clare Champion that one of the reasons Roche was selected by its parent company for the manufacture of Madapor and Zelboraf was because of the reputation which the Clarecastle site enjoys, as being a very reliable producer of pharmaceuticals.
“Additionally we continuously improve the processes; we get more efficient over time and we can give more value back to Roche”, he said.
Reflectinig on his first 16 months as managing director of Roche Ireland, Mr Cahill said that the plant has been in operation in Clarecastle for the past 40 years, the first 20 years under Syntex. He is the second Clare native to direct operations in Clarecastle. The other Clareman in charge was John Liddy from Darragh who retired in 2008.
A son of Cork natives, Paddy and Nora Cahill, Kevin Barry Avenue, Ennis; Gerry Cahill was educated at Rice College, Ennis and the University of Limerick. Afterwards he took up an appointment with Bristol Myers Squibb pharmaceutical company, Dublin for three years, after which he joined the staff of Roche Ireland in Clarecastle in 1995. Over a period of 11 years he filled different roles at the Clarecastle operation, before being appointed process manager at Roche in South Carolina.
He returned to Clarecastle for another two years before going overseas again to take up the role of Global Strategist For Drug Substance Network at Roche headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. He was there for two and a half years before returning to head up operations in Clarecastle.
“ The site is running very well and all people involved are responding well to the current challenges. However, sites such as Clarecastle one are always under pressure from a cost perspective. We are in a very competitive business but Clarecastle has responded well to the challenges and we will have to continue to do so”, he said.
However, he warned that that whole pharmaceutical industry is changing world wide to small volume products. Roche internationally has a good development pipeline of small volume products and Roche in Clarecastle, which was originally set up for large volume products, would have to change its infrastructure in time to meet the changes.
Roche Ireland is a huge contributor to the economy of Clare and the Mid-West and its managing director is happy that it also continues to support worthy local groups and charities.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s biggest bioteach company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases,ophthalmology and neuroscience. It is also the world leader in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a frontrunner in diabetes management.
Mr Cahill also pointed out that Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostics that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. Founded in 1896, Roche has been making important contributions to global health for more than a century. Twenty four medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organisation Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and chemotherapy.
Located in more than 150 countries, the Roche Group employed over 85,00 people worldwide in 2013, invested 8.7 billion Swiss francs in Research and Development and posted sales of 46.8 billion Swiss francs.
The Irish manufacturing facility was established in 1974 as Syntex Ireland on 36 hectares of land overlooking the River Fergus in Clarecastle.
A GAA enthusiast, Gerry played hurling for Éire Óg of Ennis and was a wing back on the Clare minor hurling team beaten by Offaly in the All-Ireland final in 1989. While he was in Dublin he played hurling for Ballyboden St. Enda’s for three years. He is married to Dublin born, Brona Boylan and they have two children, Oran (10) and Ella (8).