European CMO snaps up Virginia Pfizer plant

The last-minute sale of a Pfizer consumer drugs plant in Virginia has saved 500 jobs. The drugmaker says it has agreed to sell its Richmond-area plant to Fareva, a contract manufacturer based in Paris. The plant had been slated for closure since May of last year, part of Pfizer's global restructuring and cost-cutting programs.

The French company will continue making Pfizer's products at the plant under a 6-year supply deal, and it will retain Pfizer's staff. Plus, it has promised local officials to invest $42 million in the facility, and hire an additional 90 people over the next 5 years. Among the products made there are Dimetapp and Robitussin cough medicines as well as children's and other Advil products.

"We are very pleased with this outcome," Gary McLaren, economic development director for Henrico County, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "It is obviously a very important save for us."

Pfizer has been shutting down plants and other facilities around the world, partly because of its 2009 merger with Wyeth. Along with virtually all its Big Pharma competitors, the company is shedding costs and jobs to ready itself for a post-mega-blockbuster world. The company's biggest drug, Lipitor, will face generic rivals in November.

- read the Times-Dispatch piece