Pfizer's cost-cutting campaign hits Sandwich site in UK, where 500 workers will lose jobs

Earlier this month, Pfizer’s $3.5 billion cost-cutting campaign crossed overseas to Ireland. Now, just a week later, Pfizer is announcing hundreds more job cuts in the U.K.

Pfizer plans to cut approximately 500 roles and ax its Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule (PSSM) capabilities at its site in Sandwich in Kent in the U.K., a company spokesperson confirmed over email. The spokesperson described the layoffs as a “one of the consequences” of Pfizer’s enterprisewide cost realignment program, which the drugmaker unveiled in mid-October.

Under the current plan, the Sandwich site isn’t closing, and other functions will continue “with a different size,” the spokesperson added. Currently, around 940 people are employed at the facility.

Local news outlet Kent Online earlier reported that Pfizer was proposing to discontinue all lab and manufacturing work at the Sandwich site.The site is the location where Pfizer scientists first discovered Viagra. During the pandemic, Pfizer invested 10 million pounds sterling in advanced manufacturing technology at the plant to hasten the development of COVID-19 drugs, as reported by Kent Online.

“We are proud of our heritage of breakthrough science in the UK and we will retain a scientific presence in the U.K. including at our Discovery Park location in Sandwich,” Pfizer’s spokesperson explained in Tuesday’s email.

Aside from its PSSM division, Pfizer employs people in medical and safety, regulatory, and clinical development and operations roles at the site, which will retain a footprint at Sandwich despite the possibility that Pfizer may “propose some changes,” the spokesperson said.

Pfizer did not clarify when the layoffs will go into effect.

Layoffs have been sweeping across Pfizer ever since the company unveiled a plan to shave off $3.5 billion in annual costs by the end of 2024. The move comes as uncertainty plagues future product sales of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine Comirnaty and antiviral Paxlovid.

This latest round of cuts follows a 100-employee reduction at one of Pfizer’s Irish manufacturing plants in Newbridge in Kildare last week. Those staffers worked on production of the company’s oral COVID med Paxlovid, Pfizer confirmed at the time.

Prior to that, Pfizer said it would cut roughly 200 positions at its site in Kalamazoo, Michigan, following a review of demand for its COVID products.

Pfizer has also confirmed plans to shutter its Peapack, New Jersey, facility in early 2024. Of the roughly 791 positions affected, the "vast majority" of workers will be reassigned to Pfizer's New York headquarters, a company spokesperson said late last month.