Pfizer adding jobs to Ireland plant that had been slated to close

Pfizer is constantly evaluating its manufacturing network and has sold or closed a number of plants around the globe in recent years. It only just announced plans to sell a plant in India that was slated to be shuttered. But another Pfizer ($PFE) facility in Ireland that was once on the chopping block has not only been taken off the list of facilities no longer needed, but is adding several dozen jobs.

Seamus Fives, site leader for the plant in Little Island plant in County Cork, told the Irish Examiner that about 40 people will be added to the Cork plant as well as a nearby facility in Ringaskiddy. He said it is hoped the new people will be on by the end of the year. Pfizer says the Cork plant now has about 180 workers.

Pfizer in 2013 had put the plant, which makes the API for Lipitor and other drugs, on a list of facilities that would close in the wake of losing exclusivity for longtime top seller Lipitor. It was slated to close in August 2014. But the plant was spared as global demand for Lipitor held up better than expected. Earlier this year, Pfizer said the closure had been canceled for the foreseeable future.

While Lipitor sales have slid considerably from the $10 billion the drug generated in 2011, the year it lost patent exclusivity, its reputation has kept it strong in some global markets. Sales for the first half of this year were $950 million. The Irish Examiner said that strength from a couple of cancer drugs also figured into Pfizer's decision to add employees.

While the luck has not been as good for a Pfizer plant in India, the situation has improved for the workers who had expected to lose their jobs. Last month, the drugmaker said it had would sell the 55-year-old plant in Thane to Vidhi Research and Development "for a lump sum consideration of Rs 178 crore ($26.9 million)." Pfizer said all of the employees would transfer to the new owners.

The plant at one time had about 210 employees, but about 130 reportedly took buyouts last year when the drugmaker decided to wind down operations there. Pfizer announced in July that the plant was to be closed by the end of September.

- read the Irish Examiner story