Eli Lilly plots 250 job cuts in €100M revamp of French plant

Eli Lilly will spend €100 million upgrading its plant in Fegersheim, France, which makes insulins, cancer drugs and specialty pens, but the effort will cost jobs. (Eli Lilly)

Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi aren't the only pharma companies chopping jobs in France. Now, Eli Lilly says it's cutting 250 positions as part of a "modernization" effort at a plant in Fegersheim.

The cuts will come through a "voluntary exit plan" that Lilly will negotiate with local unions, a spokesperson said; they'll take place through the end of 2020. About 1,550 employees work at the site, which produces insulins and oncology drugs, and specializes in injectable pens, according to Lilly's corporate website in Europe.

Along with the cuts, Lilly announced plans to invest more than €100 million for new technology at the site, such as new capabilities in digitally connected products. That effort builds on a €300 million investment at the site in recent years.

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"The need for a transformation plan is due to market pricing pressures that require more rigorous manufacturing cost management as well as the growing competition from additional diabetes products," Lilly's representative said.

The cuts follow moves by Boehringer and Sanofi to trim down in the country. Last month, Sanofi told Reuters it was planning 670 layoffs through 2020, also through "voluntary departures." And a few days later, BI's president in France told FiercePharma his company plans to trim 327 jobs in the country but add 32 positions, for a net loss of 295 employees.

At Lilly, the latest announcement pales in comparison to the restructuring implemented by CEO David Ricks in September 2017. Under that $500 million cost-cutting effort, Lilly moved to shrink its workforce by 3,500 employees, with many of the exits coming in the form of early retirements.

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