Pfizer to close Ireland plant by next year

Pfizer ($PFE) has been cutting back its extensive manufacturing network in the face of lost patents and soft sales. Now an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) facility in Cork County, Ireland, has been targeted for closure next year, although Pfizer hopes it can save the 136 jobs there by selling it to another drugmaker.

"Pfizer has been reviewing its global manufacturing network and capacity in response to changing global demand as a result of patent expiry of a number of key medicines and the need to achieve greater efficiencies in our manufacturing," company Vice President Paul Duffy told the Irish Times.

The company has told workers it will close the plant at Little Island and move production to a facility in nearby Ringaskiddy by September 2014, the Irish Examiner reports. But Pfizer would prefer to sell it to another drug company, a spokeswoman told the Irish Times. Pfizer has "a very good track record of selling on-going concerns. It is a great site with a fantastic record," she said. The company sold a plant in Dublin to Amgen ($AMGN) in an earlier consolidation wave.

Nearly a year ago, Pfizer identified both the Little Island and the Ringaskiddy plants as facilities that would be affected by cuts. The two Cork plants had about 700 employees before the cuts kicked in. Workers were told last year that Pfizer needed to cut 180 jobs as it looked to extract about €80 million ($99.4 million) in savings from its operations in Ireland.

About half a dozen of Pfizer's 57 manufacturing plants around the world have been publicly identified for closure over the next couple of years as the company resizes its manufacturing to more closely approximate demand, John Kelly, vice president, Pfizer Global Supply (PGS), strategy & transitioning sites, said in a recent interview. Kelly was talking about 5 initiatives PGS has under way this year to make its manufacturing network more productive. That includes working on inventory control and an "external partner management" process where it will select a small group of contract manufacturers from among the 200 it works with and treat them more like they are company-owned facilities.

Pfizer unloaded 30 plants in the last year as the company sold off its nutritional business to Nestlé and spun off its animal health business into Zoetis. Five plants were sold in the Nestlé deal and another 25 are now under the management of Zoetis. Kelly said most of Pfizer's plants are in the U.S. and Western Europe. It has four plants in Ireland.

- here's the Irish Examiner story
- see more from the Irish Times

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