BMS to shutter plants, cuts 4,800 jobs

Well, it's official: Bristol-Myers Squibb plans to lay off 4,800 workers, or 10 percent of its workforce, and sell or shut down at least half of its manufacturing plants. The moves are part of a restructuring designed to save $1.5 billion annually by 2010. Why? A familiar litany of reasons: generic competition and cautious regulators. For Bristol, the big loss will be the $3 billion Plavix, which goes off patent in 2011.

Some 1,300 jobs will be cut before year's end, with the remaining 3,500 layoffs in 2008. Three areas appear to be safe from the ax: R&D, biologics, and commercialization. Manufacturing looks as if it will suffer a big chunk of the cuts; already the company has announced that it's closing a packaging facility in Colon, Panama, plus manufacturing facilities in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; and Barcelona, Spain. How will the company operate without these plants? It plans to farm out some manufacturing, for one. It's also going to slough off 60 percent of its 500 products, partly by selling off "mature" products, partly by eliminating certain lines.

The moves sound familiar to anyone who's been following pharma news this year. Company after company has launched big layoff-slash-restructuring initiatives: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, Merck...and now BMS.

- see the release from BMS
- check out this announcement about the Colon plant
- read the in-depth report from The New York Times