The World’s Top Medical Device Companies

Ireland and especially the IDA have done a  remarkable job in attracting some of the world’s leading Medical Device companies so let’s take a closer look at how Ireland fits with these market leaders.

The following is a list of the top 15:

Medical Device Companies

Johnson & Johnson

Founded in 1886 with the initial idea that wounds should be treated and dressed using sterile equipment – today’s Johnson and Johnson is one of the world’s biggest healthcare companies. Johnson and Johnson operate three distinct divisions – medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer health. Both their medical device and pharmaceutical divisions have manufacturing sites in Ireland. Johnson and Johnson products are marketed in 57 countries via almost 250 operating companies – global personnel is approximately 120,000.

Johnson and Johnson have had a presence in Ireland for over 70 years. Today, that presence is in the form of DePuy, Janssen (Biologics, Pharmaceuticals, R&D, Alzheimer Immunotherapy), Johnson & Johnson Ireland and Vistakon. Between them, they have several separate manufacturing operations in both Limerick and Cork.

Medical Device Companies

General Electric Co

GE Healthcare is the medical technology subsidiary of General Electric – a multinational conglomerate based in the USA. With a history as far back as 1893, the healthcare subsidiary today is involved in areas such as medical imaging, diagnostics and patient monitoring. They work in specialised disease areas including neurology, coronary disease and cancer.

GE Healthcare has Sales and Service Support offices in both Belfast and Dublin but also has a Global Manufacturing site in Cork. The site is of particular importance for the ‘contrast media’ technology manufacture which is improving visibility of structures in radiography processes. Approximately 500 people are employed within the Cork manufacture site and products from this site are exported to over 70 countries worldwide.

Medical Device Companies

Medtronic Inc

Medtronic began as a medical supply repair shop in the US in 1949, their first commercial product was a battery-powered, wearable pacemaker. From then on they have focussed on technology as a means of improving treatment. Today there is a focus on using that technology to improve treatment and management of chronic conditions specifically – Medtronic claims that “every three seconds, another life is improved by a Medtronic product or therapy”. In 2014, Medtronic bought Irish-headquartered Covidien to further expand their scope. Globally, Medtronic employs over 85,000 people in over 160 countries.

Medtronic moved into Ireland in 1999 and now operate two facilities – an office site in Dublin and a development and manufacture site in Galway which manufactures products in their cardiovascular range. This Galway site employs over 2500 people. The three Covidien manufacture sites continue to operate in Galway, Westmeath, and Offaly – employing over 1200 people in total.

Medical Device Companies

Siemens AG

Siemens AG is a multinational conglomerate based in Germany – it is the biggest engineering company in Europe covering sectors including energy, industry, and healthcare. Siemens Healthcare focusses on equipment for medical imaging, clinical IT and lab diagnostics and employs around 43,000 people worldwide.

Siemens has over 600 employees across Ireland including staff in headquarters and sales roles. More specifically, Siemens Healthcare has a manufacturing plant for diagnostic equipment in Swords, Co Dublin.

Medical Device Companies


Baxter began in the 1930s by launching the first commercially prepared intravenous solutions, today Baxter operates as a global diversified healthcare company. Its products serve disease areas such as hemophilia, infectious diseases, kidney disease, immune disorders and trauma treatment. In 2014, Baxter International Inc reported sales of $16.7 billion and employed approximately 65,500 people worldwide.

Baxter moved into Ireland in the mid-1960s and built its first manufacturing site there in 1972. They currently have two manufacturing sites in Co. Mayo: one in Castlebar, where they produce renal dialysis solutions, pre-mixed IV solutions, and several drug products; the other in Swinford, which produces devices for administration of these products. Between them, they employ over 1000 people.

Medical Device Companies

Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGAA

Fresenius Medical Care is a German-based medical company with a particular specialty in renal dialysis. It was established in 1996 after a merger of two other companies but the Fresenius brand within medical products goes back to 1912. The company is involved with running dialysis clinics, as well as producing the medical equipment needed within the dialysis process. In 2014, 50% of dialysis machines sold were manufactured by Fresenius Medical Care. Their products are services are now available in 120 countries, while they employ more than 102,000 people in over 50 countries.

Medical Device Companies

Koninklijke Philips NV

Philips is a technology company based in Holland with headquarters in Amsterdam. Their main areas of focus are lighting, electronics, and healthcare – the latter accounts for 42% of global sales revenue. Philips healthcare is a diverse range of over 450 different types of medical equipment including MRI scanners, diagnostic ECG devices, and patient monitoring equipment. They employ over 37,000 people in 100 countries.

Medical Device Companies

Cardinal Health Inc

Initially established in 1971 as Cardinal Foods, by 1994 the company had become Cardinal Health and established itself as one of the biggest wholesalers of pharmaceuticals in the USA. Cardinal Health now employs over 34,000 people around the world and their work now includes surgical products and laboratory supplies.

Medical Device Companies

Novartis AG (Alcon)

Novartis is a Swiss-based healthcare company – Alcon is its eye care division. Alcon began as a Texas ophthalmic shop in 1945 and began creating specialty pharmaceutical products in 1947. The accompanying surgical division was formed in 1969 and today they offer a range of vision care products treating vision conditions and eye diseases. In 2011, Alcon merged with Novartis and became their third largest division. Their eye care products currently reach over 180 countries. 1800 research and development associates and approximately 14000 people are involved in manufacturing worldwide. They manufacture pharmaceutical products, contact lenses and lens care products as well as surgical equipment and devices.

Alcon Ireland Ltd is responsible for the company’s Intraocular Lens (IOL) – this lens replaces the natural lens of the eye when it is removed during cataract surgery. Production of this is set to increase considerably over the next few years so there are opportunities available to those with the right skill set.

Medical Device Companies

Covidien Plc

Covidien was a healthcare company, founded in 2007 but with a history dating back to 1903, that was headquartered in Ireland. Their product portfolio included medical devices in areas including surgery and patient monitoring. By 2014, Covidien had almost 40,000 employees across 70 countries. The company was bought by Medtronic in 2015, forming one of the biggest medical device companies in the world.

The three Covidien manufacture sites continue to operate in Galway, Westmeath, and Offaly – employing over 1200 people in total.

Medical Device Companies

Stryker Corp

Founded by an orthopedic surgeon in the U.S in 1941, Dr. Stryker was aiming to make products that met his patient’s healthcare needs. Stryker continues in the field of medical technology with a focus on surgical devices and is now one of the biggest such companies in the world. They currently employ over 25,000 people worldwide.

Stryker has three plants across Ireland – two in Cork and one in Limerick. The Cork Instruments plant develops and surgical instruments and associated technology. The Stryker Orthopaedics sites in Cork and Limerick research and develop biomaterials as well as manufacturing knee and hip joints. Across these three sites, Stryker employs over 1,200 people.

Medical Device Companies

Becton, Dickinson & Co

Started in 1897, BD now employs almost 30,000 people in over 50 countries. Their focus is on medical technology to improve drug delivery, diagnostic abilities, and advancing drug discovery. They have a range of products including medical devices, laboratory instruments, reagents, medical supplies and diagnostic products. The company operates in three distinct segments – BD Medical, BD Diagnostics and BD Biosciences.

BD Medical has had a presence in Ireland since 1969 and currently have two manufacturing sites. They operate one in Dun Laoghaire which manufactures 11 different lines of pen needles for insulin injection, and a second in Louth which manufactures a range of medical devices including a high-value pre-filled syringe.

Medical Device Companies

Boston Scientific Corp

Boston Scientific produces a large range of medical devices used to diagnose and treat patients with issues in the areas of cardiology, urology, endoscopy and many more. It was founded in 1979 with the aim of creating less invasive medical devices and procedures, they continue to innovate across expanding areas of medicine. They estimate that around 21 million people were treated with one of their products in 2014. Boston Scientific currently employs approximately 23,000 people across 40 countries.

Boston Scientific has had a manufacturing presence in Ireland since 1994. There are currently three manufacturing sites – Galway, Cork, and Clonmel. Established in 1994, the Galway site is the largest in the country providing research and development, manufacturing, regulatory affairs and new product development. The Cork site was opened in 1998 and manufactures a range of devices across several areas of the business. In Clonmel, they have a focus on development, manufacture, and distribution of defibrillators and pacemakers – the Cardiac Rhythm Management area is an area of high potential and growth for the company. These sites export approximately 10 million devices every year. They currently have around 4500 employees across Ireland.

Medical Device Companies

Essilor International SA

Essilor is a French-based company who specialize in lens manufacture – they are the biggest producer of ophthalmic lenses in the world. The company was established in 1972 after the merging of two rival lens manufacturers. As well as manufacture, the company remains heavily invested in research and development.

In 1973, Essilor opened their first Irish glass manufacturing plant, in Limerick. This was followed by the opening of a second plant, in 1991, known as ‘Organic Lens Manufacturing’. Today these plants are high-tech manufacturing sites, developing some of the world’s most advanced lenses. Across Ireland, Essilor now employs more than 350 staff.

Medical Device Companies

Allergan Inc

Allergan began in 1950 after its founder successfully developed anti-allergy nose and eye drops. The focus was novel treatments for specialty markets in response to feedback and information from healthcare professionals and patients. They currently have over 2700 employees, including over 800 at their Westport manufacturing site. Allergen is a multi-specialty provider in areas including eye care, neurosciences, and dermatology. In March 2015, Allergan was bought by Actavis.

The current Co. Mayo site is the largest in the company and was established in 1977. It is now home to both a Sterile Pharmaceutical Ophthalmic Plant and a Biologics Plant. There is 850 staff currently employed by Allergan across Ireland. The Mayo-based site production accounts for more than 50% of the company’s total revenue.

At about the same time, Qmed published a list of how this ‘top companies’ list is likely to change into 2015 after a series of sizeable mergers and buy-outs – most notably the purchase of Covidien by Medtronic. The list will undoubtedly look different as 2015 figures are assessed but the good news is that Ireland remains well placed to continue its strength within the medical device industry through 2015 and beyond.

Data Source: Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry


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