Southern Star Ltd. logo
Premium Exclusives

Bantry's Rowex to expand after Sandoz takeover

March 12th, 2024 7:15 AM

By Martin Claffey

Bantry's Rowex to expand after Sandoz takeover Image
Joe Keane, who wil move from Rowa to the new Sandoz-owned Rowex, seen here with Mrs Wagner-Halswick, managing director of Rowa, at the company’s 60th anniversary celebrations in 2019. (Photo: Tony McElhinney)

Share this article

THE world’s leading manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals has taken over Bantry firm Rowex, in what is being viewed as a huge boost to the West Cork town, with further jobs planned.

Rowex was established in 1993 and jointly owned by Sandoz and Rowa Pharmaceutical, supplying prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Now Sandoz is taking full ownership of Rowex, which will remain in Bantry but will operate as an entirely separate company from Rowa.

Rowa employs 75 staff in Bantry while Rowex employs 24.

Both companies will remain in their premises at Newtown in Bantry.

Rowex will focus on marketing and sales of its products. It will retain the Rowex name as a division of Sandoz.

Rowa has been in Bantry since 1959, and will continue operations under owner Brigitte Wagner- Halswick.

‘I am excited for the future of the company and I would like to wish Sandoz and all the team at Rowex Ltd every success in the years to come,’ she said.

Joe Keane, a renowned business figure in Cork and up until now Rowa’s general manager, will now be the new head of operations for Rowex.

‘This deal is good news for Bantry, and can help bring further savings to the Irish healthcare system with cost-effective and affordable medicines,’ he said.

‘We will continue to invest in Bantry and indeed we have already started further recruiting.’

Rowex will concentrate on marketing and sales of its generic and biosimilar medicines and the new jobs will be in these areas.

Mr Keane has been part of the Rowa-Rowex story for decades, and has a long relationship working with Mrs Wagner-Halswick.

‘I had a dual role at Rowa-Rowex, and it was not an easy decision to leave Rowa,’ he said.

‘I know it was not an easy decision for Mrs Wagner either. I think she was very emotional. She is always firm but fair, and always looked after her employees,’ he said.

Although they will now represent different organisations, the pair will continue to have a strong relationship as both are heavily involved in the Bantry Hospice Project, the celebrated community organisation supporting palliative care and services across West Cork.

Mr Keane says that Rowex products are now ubiquitous across the country.

‘Many people wouldn’t realise it but just about every home in Ireland has a Rowex product in it,’ he said.

Well-known generic products produced by the Bantry company include the ibuprofen brand Brupro, Sidena, an over-the-counter erectile dysfunction tablet, and Cetrine, a popular antihistamine.

Executives from Sandoz led by Diane DiGangi Trench, head of UK and Ireland operations, were in West Cork this week to update staff.

The deal gives the Swiss multinational a presence in Ireland, which it has lacked since it was itself spun off from Novartis.

‘Access to off-patent medicines is below the European average in Ireland, with Medicines for Ireland estimating that the greater use of these medicines could save the Irish healthcare system an extra €200m per year that could be reinvested in frontline services, improving patient health,’ said Ms DiGangi Trench.

Sandoz has global sales of more than €9bn and employs more than 22,000 people worldwide.

It was itself spun off from Novartis in late 2023.

Mrs Wagner-Halswick has a home in Bantry and was chosen as a Southern Star West Cork Business and Tourism Awards business ambassador in 2022.

Rowa was founded by her late husband Roland in Bantry in 1959.

He died in 1979, and Mrs Wagner-Halswick took over the company.

Share this article

Related content