US President-elect Donald Trump has said he will push the pharmaceutical industry to move production back to the USA, a potential threat to Ireland's biggest export industry.

During his first press conference since the election, Mr Trump said: "I think a lot of industries are going to be coming back. We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They're leaving left and right. They supply our drugs, but they don't make them here, to a large extent."

The Pharmaceutical industry accounts for just over half of the value of all Ireland's goods exports - some €64 billion.

Ireland is the world’s seventh biggest exporter of pharmaceutical products, and is the biggest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the EU.

The sector employs around 24,500 people, according to the Irish Pharmaceutical Health Association. 

Chemical and related product exports to the USA were just under €16 billion in the ten months to last October, according to the CSO.

Nine of the world’s ten biggest pharma companies have manufacturing plants in Ireland.

During the press conference this afternoon, Mr Trump claimed he had been successful in persuading some car companies to cancel plans to invest abroad, and expand production in the US instead.

Mr Trump also repeated a campaign promise to allow the US government's Medicare programme negotiate the price of prescription drugs in the US.

He said "the other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they're getting away with murder.

“Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there's very little bidding on drugs.

“We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don't bid properly. And we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time."

During the US election campaign Mr Trump, along with Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, pledged to allow Medicare negotiate pharmaceutical prices – a move supported by 83% of Americans, according to opinion polls.

Drug prices in the US are among the highest in the world. The market there was worth about $325bn in 2015, with Medicare accounting for about 29% of prescription drugs purchases.