AstraZeneca plans to exit 'beating heart' of Indian operations in Bangalore

Amid a corporate review of AstraZeneca’s global manufacturing and supply network, the company’s Indian subsidiary is planning to close up shop at the “beating heart” of its India operations in Bangalore.

AstraZeneca Pharma India will exit its production plant in Bangalore, India, “in due course,” the company said in a filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange Thursday.

AZ plans to auction off the site “in a fully operational manner” to a buyer who can also serve as a contract manufacturer for the AstraZeneca drugs made and packaged in Bangalore, AZ’s Indian subsidiary said.

In the filing, AZ said it is "fully cognizant of the impact this change can bring," adding that the company's "first responsibility will be towards its employees and meeting the needs of its patients by ensuring an uninterrupted supply of medicines."

AstraZeneca has operated in India since 1979, the company says on its website. Aside from its tablet production facility in Bangalore, AZ also operates a global technology center in Chennai, which boasts a workforce of more than 2,300 IT professionals and experts.

The Bangalore facility, for its part, housed more than 900 employees as of mid-August, Narayan Seshadri, AstraZeneca Pharma India’s board chair, said at the company’s annual general meeting this past summer.

The Bangalore site supports 51 global AZ brands and is the headquarters for the Indian company’s commercial operations, AstraZeneca Pharma India added. The site also houses manufacturing and clinical operations. AZ describes the Bangalore plant as the “beating heart” of its India operations.

AZ’s plan to exit its Bangalore site comes after the company announced layoffs of 103 sales staffers in its Indian primary care division back in March. At the time, the employees pushed back against what they described as unlawful terminations, according to local publication The Hindu.

In a statement to Fierce Pharma, AstraZeneca attributed the decision to its evolving “strategic priorities.”

Last year, meanwhile, AstraZeneca locked in a sale of its West Chester, Ohio, site to biomanufacturing outfit National Resilience. Much like the plan in Bangalore, Resilience and AZ forged a long-term agreement under which Resilience is expected to continue producing “select AstraZeneca medicines."

More than 500 employees who worked at AZ’s Ohio facility were set to maintain their jobs after Resilience took control, Andrew Wirths, senior vice president of AstraZeneca’s Americas supply region, said in a statement last fall.