Abbott Labs cuts jobs at HQ and plans for plant closure in Puerto Rico

Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) is cutting jobs, with plans to whack a plant in Puerto Rico as well as laying off staff at its Chicago-area headquarters. The company just won't say how many jobs are on the chopping block.

Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel did not respond to a request for comment about the layoffs at the headquarters and only told the Chicago Tribune, "We continuously assess our operations to ensure we've got the right resources in the right locations." He declined to say how many people had been let go.

Stoffel gave a similar response to the Associated Press Thursday about plans to close a manufacturing plant in Barceloneta in mid-2015. He again declined to say how many workers would be let go, only that Abbott has about 1,500 employees across the island. The AP said the plant slated to be shuttered is the smallest of three Abbott has.

The plant closure is another tough hit for that part of Puerto Rico. In November, Pfizer ($PFE) said it would shutter a plant in Barceloneta by 2017 but couldn't say how many employees will lose jobs as a result. It has three plants and about 2,700 employees on the island. At about the same time, Merck ($MRK) said it would cease production at an active pharmaceutical ingredient plant in Barceloneta late in 2014 and move the formulation and packaging done at the facility to a contractor. It also intends to move formulation operations at its plant in Arecibo to its Las Piedras facility, and all of that work will go to a contractor by the end of 2016, it said. But like the other two companies, it didn't say how many jobs would be eliminated in the moves.

Layoffs are not unusual at most drugmakers, and certainly not at Abbott, which laid out plans to cut 1,900 jobs in 2011 and another 1,200 or so in 2012. About 550 of the 2012 layoffs were tied to its spinoff of its pharmaceutical unit into what has become AbbVie. In an earnings call last week, executives said the company would be taking steps this year to reduce expenses.

- read the Chicago Tribune story
- more from the Associated Press

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