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Brent Saunders, Allergan: Why Ireland is Ideal for EMA


Allergan's CEO Brent Saunders explains why the European Medicines Agency should choose Dublin as its headquarters after leaving London.


Brent Saunders

As Chief Executive Officer of Allergan, a global biopharmaceutical company, I am often asked, what is it like to be headquartered in Ireland? The answer is that it is an ideal location for an organization like ours, which is an innovation-driven, global life-sciences powerhouse. We chose Ireland as our home because of its commitment to scientific advancement, its tech-savvy workforce, government integrity, quality of life, commitment to the European Union and excellent airline connections to Europe and America. These same reasons have resulted in Ireland becoming a home for 24 of the world’s top biotech and pharma companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis and Pfizer.

Allergan markets a portfolio of leading brands and best-in-class products to provide patients in Ireland and around the world with innovative medicines and treatments focused on the central nervous system, eye care, dermatology, medical aesthetics, regenerative medicine, gastroenterology, women's health and urology. We have been in Ireland for 40 years, employ approximately 1,700 people and are very pleased by the talent of our colleagues and the scientific talent pool coming from the country’s excellent universities.

The European Union is now considering the future location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the independent and highly professional EU agency responsible for the protection of public and animal health through the scientific evaluation and supervision of medicines. Given that the EMA has to leave London because of Brexit, it is clear that Ireland would be the least disruptive location for EMA staff; it will be the only English-speaking country in the EU, has a deep pool of talent in science and medicine, and offers more than 300 flights per week between Dublin and London. We know from our experience at Allergan that Dublin Airport provides excellent air connections to EU capitals and a vast European network comprising 145 routes. Dublin can also clearly meet the ICT needs of the EMA, being the European HQ for major companies like SAP, Google and Microsoft.

As Allergan continues to grow its operations globally, Ireland continues to be a cornerstone of that growth.  We continue to build strong relationships and collaborate closely with Ireland’s world class universities and institutes of technology in the area of life sciences. Six colleges are now partners in the Allergan Innovation Award Program-Trinity College Dublin, UCD, NUI Galway, IT Sligo, DCU and Galway-Mayo IT.

Frankly, if I were head of a scientific organization based in London faced with a mandate to leave, I would have no hesitation in choosing Dublin, an English-speaking, cosmopolitan city with all the amenities of a modern European capital, coupled with the creative energy of Irish education, arts and enterprise.