GlaxoSmithKline’s job whacking touches U.S. consumer plant

GlaxoSmithKline GSK House in Brentford, UK
GlaxoSmithKline is cutting jobs at a contract manufacturing plant in Memphis, Tennessee. (GSK)

A GlaxoSmithKline consumer health products plant in Tennessee has had its ups and downs. Currently, it is having a down. The U.K.-based drugmaker will lay off nearly 100 employees at the facility in Memphis.

GSK last week notified (PDF) state authorities in a WARN notice that it will begin phased layoffs of 99 workers Dec. 10, which it said is slated to be completed by April 2. The job cutting is the result of GSK losing a contract manufacturing agreement, which will end in January, spokesperson Caryn Previdi said in an email. 

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline selling U.S. consumer health plant to CDMO Avara Pharmaceutical

While Glaxo considers consumer health one of its revenue drivers, U.S. plants tied to older products have not fared well in that plan. In June, GSK concluded a deal to sell a 250,000-square-foot consumer healthcare manufacturing facility in Aiken, South Carolina, to CDMO Avara Pharmaceutical Services. In 2011, after selling a portfolio of older consumer products to Prestige Brands, GSK also looked at selling both the Aiken plant and the facility in Memphis then gave them a reprieve. 

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline sharpens ax for 650 job cuts—450 in sales—to channel money toward new launches, R&D

The layoffs at the Tennessee plant will come as GSK makes deep cuts elsewhere in the U.S. After a business review unveiled in July—and ahead of new challenges—GlaxoSmithKline is whacking 650 jobs across its U.S. business. On the block are 450 field sales positions, plus another 100 each at its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and at a commercial hub in North Carolina.  

With the changes, GSK aims to “improve the competitiveness and efficiency" of its cost base, company spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said in a statement. Among its challenges is the expectation that another drugmaker will get approval yet this year for a generic of GSK’s blockbuster respiratory drug Advair.