GlaxoSmithKline could cut up to 60 workers at U.K. site as it ends production of antibiotic chemical

GlaxoSmithKline GSK House in Brentford, UK
GlaxoSmithKline is reportedly working to offload some of its antibiotics portfolio. (GSK)

GlaxoSmithKline has reportedly worked in recent months to shake up its antibiotics business after at least one failed attempt to divest products. Now, dozens of GSK employees could wind up on the cutting room floor as the drugmaker shifts away from producing a key antibiotic component. 

The British drugmaker will look to trim positions at its Irvine, U.K., manufacturing facility as it phases out production of chemical 6-APA, a precursor for antibiotic amoxicillin, at the site, the company said Friday.

According to the Irvine Times, up to 60 positions could be at risk. The facility has around 325 total employees, a company spokesman said. 

GSK decided to stop producing the chemical after a "detailed review of our supply chain," it said. It will continue to produce clavulanic acid at the site, and it will purchase the substance to manufacture Augmentin, which combines that acid with amoxicillin.

The drugmaker has "opened consultations with employees and their representatives" around the layoffs and pledged to "treat employees fairly, with respect and integrity."

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline looks to sell some antibiotics in renewed portfolio shakeup: report

The potential cuts come as GSK has weighed some additional changes to its antibiotics lineup.

In March, the pharma giant hired on financial advisors to help it potentially offload its cephalosporin portfolio, which includes Zinnat and Fortum, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. GSK previously failed to offload those cephalosporin products back in 2017.

The company has started shopping the brands around among other antibiotic producers and venture funds, Bloomberg said. With about $200 million in annual revenue, the drugs could fetch a couple hundred million dollars, the unnamed people told the news service. 

GSK's antibiotics offerings also include Augmentin as well as gepotidacin, an experimental drug belonging to the new triazaacenaphthylene bacterial topoisomerase inhibitor class that GSK has pushed into phase 3 testing for urinary tract infections and gonorrhea.