GSK hiring 130 at inhaler facility, even as CRO axes up to 200 GSK alum

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), which has been laying off hundreds of employees in the face of falling Advair sales, is making a slight alteration to that trend, adding up to 140 employees at a facility in North Carolina. But it is a bittersweet turn of events since as many as 200 former GSK workers in the area who moved to jobs with CRO Parexel ($PRXL) are getting their pink slips.

GSK's plant in Zebulon, NC, will add about 100 people this year and 30 or so next, according to the Triangle Business Journal. The facility makes and packages a variety of GSK meds, including its Advair and newer respiratory drugs Breo and Anoro. The company has invested about $90 million in the facility in recent years and it is being readied to manufacture a new respiratory drug inhaler. A spokesperson in an email confirmed the plans Friday. 

But the news comes as reports surfaced that Parexel will ax up to 200 of the 450 former GSK workers it took on last year in a deal with client GSK. That hand-off was part of the U.K. drugmaker's broader reduction plan in which about 900 R&D and other workers were let go. Reports have ranged between 125 and 200 layoffs with happen at facility in Research Triangle Park. A spokeswoman confirmed the cuts to the Business Journal and said they would happen over a two-week period starting Sept. 30.

The hiring news is a bit of relief from GSK's ongoing announcements of cuts around its operations. It whacked 275 workers in Pittsburgh, PA, as it folded Novartis ($NVS) consumer health employees into a joint venture the two are doing in that realm. And the company continues to deal with sliding Advair sales. It its Q2 earnings announcement Tuesday, GSK reported revenues edged up 6% to £5.89 billion ($9.19 billion), helped by vaccine and consumers health sales, but respiratory drug sales fell 6% in the quarter as Advair revenues declined 17%.

CEO Andrew Witty did point out that growth in the sales of new drugs is now more than offsetting sales declines of Advair, but it is taking the efforts of many products to make up for evaporating sales from a drug that at one point pulled in $8 billion a year, 20% of GSK's total revenue.

- read the Triangle Business Journal story
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