Big profit surge at pharmaceutical firms

Two of Northern Ireland's largest pharmaceutical firms have announced increased turnover and profits.

In the year ending September 2011 the Craigavon-based Almac Group saw pre-tax profit increase 29% to £18.6m on turnover of £275m.

The Newry-based Norbrook Laboratories increased pre-tax profits by 62% to £16.8m on turnover of £161m.

Manufacturers with a strong export focus are one of the few bright spots in a struggling economy.

Almac said it had spent £7.4m on research during the year which is part of a strategy of "investing for the long term" and positioning the group to be leader in its chosen markets.

The directors said the performance for the year "reflects further sustained progress towards achieving this long term objective."

Breakthrough

The company, which has a major operation in the United States, now employs almost 3,000 people paying wages of £93m.

The firm's highest paid director in 2011 received a salary of £550,000.

At the end of last year the company said it had made a major breakthrough with the development of a colon cancer test which should be on the market within two years.

Norbrook Laboratories said it had seen continued improvement in turnover across all of its business activities during the year.

The firm, which is best known as a veterinary medicine manufacturer, said it had spent £8.1m on research and development during the year.

The firm employs more than 1,400 people paying wages of £40m.

The highest paid director was the company chairman and owner Lord Ballyedmond who received £3.4m.

He is believed to be one of Ireland's wealthiest men with a fortune estimated at around £650m.

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