Consolidation, layoffs hit Atlanta drugmakers

As Big Pharma consolidates and restructures, sympathy has gone out to New Jersey, where many drugmakers make their U.S. home. Layoffs are expected to hurt local economies, not only because of lost jobs and personal income, but real estate vacancies and the like. But pharma cuts are making things tough all over. Just witness today's Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Until now, Duluth, GA, was home to a 200-plus employee facility run by Steifel Laboratories. The company was looking for office space in the area to house its headquarters in a relocation from Coral Gables, FL until recently. Then GlaxoSmithKline bought Steifel--and now the HQ isn't coming. What's more, the Duluth facility is shutting down, and its work will go to Glaxo's campus in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. That makes 200 jobs lost.

Meanwhile, Abbott Laboratories has agreed to buy Solvay Pharmaceuticals in a $6.6 billion deal. Solvay's U.S. headquarters has been in the Atlanta area. So the city is bidding bye-bye to that U.S. HQ--and is biting its nails over 450 Solvay jobs in Marietta, GA.

Luckily for Georgia, it's been able to attract some biotech action, including a $70 million plant planned by Dendreon, expected to employ up to 550. So some of the pharma job losses will be made up. But a general lack of financing tends to end up sending those companies elsewhere, namely the Research Triangle, locals say. And so the life sciences jobs wheel turns.

- read the Chronicle piece