Pfizer to shut plants, cut 6,000 jobs

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NEW YORK — Pfizer Inc. has unveiled plans to close eight manufacturing plants, reduce operations at six others and slash about 6,000 jobs.

The pharmaceutical giant said Tuesday that the plan, the first phase of its previously announced Plant Network Strategy in the wake of the Wyeth acquisition, includes recommendations to cease operations at eight manufacturing sites in Ireland, Puerto Rico and the United States by the end of 2015 plus scale back operations at six other plants in Germany, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to Pfizer, the planned reductions will boost manufacturing efficiency and lower costs by more effectively using resources and technology, improving plant processes, eliminating excess capacity and better aligning production with market demand. These changes will result in about 6,000 job cuts over the next several years, the company said, adding that product transfers will expand the roles of a number of plants in Pfizer’s manufacturing network.

By reconfiguring its worldwide plant network, Pfizer said it aims to establish a fully aligned manufacturing and supply organization from the combined networks of Pfizer and Wyeth. 

"The restructuring of our global plant network is critical to our efforts to remain competitive so that we can continue to meet patient needs and expand the access and affordability of our medicines," Pfizer Global Manufacturing President Nat Ricciardi said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, today’s announcement is very difficult to make because of its impact on our colleagues," Ricciardi noted. "We have a tremendous global workforce and some of the best manufacturing facilities in the industry. But we must continue to adjust to the fast-changing and extremely competitive environment in which we operate. That means realigning our network and reducing our manufacturing capacity so that we can position Pfizer for the next phase of growth across biopharmaceuticals and our diversified business portfolio."

Pfizer reported that it plans to discontinue manufacturing operations over the next 18 months to five years at three solid-dose sites that make tablets and capsules: Caguas in Puerto Rico; Loughbeg in Ireland; and Rouses Point, N.Y. The company said Wyeth had announced in 2005 that it would exit and sell the Rouses Point site.

Plans also call for Pfizer to phase out pharmaceutical solid-dose manufacturing at Guayama, Puerto Rico, and that site will expand its  consumer health care operations. Two aseptic facilities that make sterile injectable medicines are targeted for exit — Dublin, Ireland, and Carolina, Puerto Rico — and reductions are planned at two solid-dose facilities in Illertissen, Germany, and Newbridge, Ireland.

While Pfizer’s biotechnology portfolio continues to grow significantly, the company also proposes changes at its sites that manufacture vaccines and large-molecule medicines to improve efficiencies, capitalize on process and productivity improvements and new technology, and to simplify the supply chain.

Pfizer also plans to exit operations in Shanbally, Ireland, as well as biotechnology manufacturing in Pearl River, N.Y. Plants in Sanford, N.C.,; Andover, Mass.; and Havant, United Kingdom, also are slated to see reductions.

In addition, Pfizer plans to cease production of consumer health care products at its plants in Richmond, Va., and Pearl River in the United States. The Pearl River site will remain Pfizer’s Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research and Development, as previously announced. Consumer health care research and development, the company said, also will continue in Richmond. In both Pearl River and in Richmond, R&D jobs will be unaffected by the planned manufacturing exits.

The timing of specific exits will depend upon the complexity of operations, the amount of time required for product transfers and other business requirements, according to Pfizer.

Pfizer Global Manufacturing currently operates 78 plants internationally with a workforce of about 33,000.  


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