Head of Ireland, Merck
A senior pharma executive talks about the challenges facing her industry — including making medicines more accessible to patients — and why it’s such a dynamic sector for women.
Roisin Molloy didn’t always work as a pharmaceutical industry executive. In fact, she started her career at the sharp end of healthcare, first as a midwife and then as an oncology nurse. She’s glad she did, too, because these experiences have given Molloy — currently Head of Ireland at pharmaceutical company Merck, the oldest pharmaceutical company in the world — great insight into both sides of her sector.
“I’m very aware of how healthcare professionals think and work because I used to do their job,” she says. “I also recognise that some may not have a particularly favourable perception of the pharmaceutical industry, so I’m always conscious of how to optimise our interactions.
“Certainly, when I was working as a nurse, I didn’t realise that companies in this sector were so willing to provide patient support. In fact, they offer a lot of goodwill and innovation that everyone — particularly in this time of COVID-19 — can benefit from.”
A strong development platform for women
Molloy — who was elected to the strategy board of industry body IPHA (Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association) this year — is acutely aware of the challenges facing her industry. One of these is the so-called ‘innovation paradox’.
The sector has long been a strong development platform for women. There are so many different areas to work in too, ranging from medical and manufacturing to government affairs and legal. It’s an extremely varied and exciting space.
“There’s a huge amount of pharmaceutical manufacturing in Ireland,” she explains. “In fact, this country is the largest supplier and producer of medicines, per capita, in Europe, but the slowest when it comes to making them accessible to our own patients.”
It’s an inequity that urgently needs to be addressed. “The IPHA strategy board is preparing to start talks with the Health Service Executive over the supply and pricing of medicines,” she says. “Hopefully a new agreement can be reached by the end of January to solve the problem.”
Looking back over her career, Molloy is grateful for the opportunities the pharmaceutical industry has given her. “The sector has long been a strong development platform for women,” she says. “There are so many different areas to work in too, ranging from medical and manufacturing to government affairs and legal. It’s an extremely varied and exciting space.”