Shire cuts 260 in switch to contract manufacturing


Pull out your tally of pharma job losses. We have another 260 to add, this time from Shire, which intends to shut down a Maryland plant over the next three years. Production at that plant will be outsourced to a North Carolina contract manufacturer, the company said.

In fact, the plant closure is part of a company-wide move away from manufacturing its own drugs, spokesman Matt Cabrey told the Baltimore Sun. "Our strategy at Shire, in short, does not include in-house manufacturing," he said. The decision isn't based in the current recession, he said, but "strictly related to the strategy that Shire has in place."

It's an ironic turnabout. Shire bought the plant in 2002 from a contract manufacturer that had been making some of the company's products. It paid about $65 million for the facility, then added to the complex with additional land and a pharma tech center. Currently, four drugs are made at the plant, including the ADHD blockbuster Adderall XR and its sister med Vyvanse. Now, Shire will stop producing one drug at a time, transferring that work to the contract manufacturer.

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We all know that Shire is far from alone in its restructuring. Drugmakers all over the world have been closing their plants and laying off workers. Some pharma companies have pledged to increase their outsourcing by leaps and bounds. Good news for contract manufacturing, yes. Bad news for pharma's in-house manufacturing workers.

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