Pfizer whacking 150 jobs in closure of Irish packaging plant

The past few weeks have seen a spate of pharma manufacturing cuts, with Actavis ($ACT), Merck ($MRK) and Pfizer ($PFE) all whacking jobs. And Pfizer has continued its busy end to 2013 by revealing it is to close a packaging plant in Ireland, laying off 150 workers in the process.

Pfizer plans to close the Newbridge packaging facility by 2015. The news comes just two weeks after the company revealed it is to shutter a Puerto Rico plant and forms part of Pfizer's broader strategy to rebuild itself for the post-blockbuster era. On the ground in Ireland little of that matters, though. Newbridge has only recently finished a round of 275 layoffs that began in 2010. Now a further 150 of the remaining 670 workers are set to lose their jobs in the second half of next year.

"The timing and phasing of these job losses is particularly of concern. We believe that the pool of workers who will accept a voluntary redundancy package has been exhausted," trade union organizer Frank Jones said. At its peak, the plant employed 1,500 people, but generic competition has slashed the volume of pills Pfizer needs to produce and package. The consequence is Pfizer thinks it lacks the throughput to justify running a packaging plant at Newbridge.

With the news arriving so soon after Baxter ($BAX) and Merck revealed cuts in the country, some politicians said the Irish drug industry is in "crisis." Yet there are positives amid the gloom. Pfizer is investing in Irish biologics and ingredient plants, and The Irish Times reports Newbridge will take on some of the solid dose production work handled by the company's closing Puerto Rico plant. 

- here's RTE's coverage
- check out FiercePharma's take
- view the union statement
- read the Irish Times analysis