Teva U.K. plant cuts 80 jobs as drugmaker looks for higher skilled workers

Teva Pharmaceuticals' ($TEVA) efforts to cut costs by making its manufacturing more efficient have landed at a plant in the U.K. where the generics leader will cut dozens of jobs but add some new positions with more specialized skills.

Last week, the drugmaker told employees of a plant in Runcorn that it would eliminate 80 jobs but intended to add 20 other positions, the Liverpool Echo reports. The plant, near Liverpool, U.K., had 407 employees at year end.

Denise Bradley, Teva's senior vice president of global corporate reputation, sent an emailed statement that said the changes at the plant are part of a long-term plan to "ensure the future sustainability of the site" by improving the technical expertise of employees. It said the plant is "increasing the number of specialist roles in order to support the greater use of technology and automation now required in complex drug process development and manufacture."

Teva says it hopes to soften the job-loss blow by trying to find jobs within its operations in the U.K. for some of those slated to lose their jobs. The rest will receive outplacement services to help them find employment.

Bradley explained that the Runcorn facility manufactures sterile products for treatment of respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The site also produces a leading medicine for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Most of these meds are exported to the U.S., she said.

While being downsized, the Runcorn plant is in a better position than many Teva facilities that are being closed as the drugmaker continues down the path of cutting about $2 billion out of its expenses by the end of next year. Last year CFO Eyal Desheh said Teva intends to close about three dozen plants in the next four to 5 years as part of the downsizing. Since then, the drugmaker has agreed to a $4.5 billion deal to buy the Actavis generics business of Allergan ($AGN), so potentially will be adding some facilities as part of that deal.

- here's the Liverpool Echo story