Warner Chilcott plots 500 job cuts in European revamp

In the wake of losing patent protection on top-selling Actonel, Warner Chilcott is restructuring its European operations and plans to cut 500 jobs in the process. Actonel accounted for 70 percent of Warner's sales in Western Europe last year, and the drug now faces generic competition in several European countries. The company is aiming to cut costs in the region and refocus its efforts.

Warner recently completed a "strategic review" of operations in those threatened markets. According to a statement, Warner will revamp its business in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. But commercial operations in the UK won't be affected, and nor will its facility in Weiterstadt, Germany. Warner's HQ in Dublin and its Irish facilities won't be part of the restructuring either.

The cutbacks in Europe will allow Warner to reorient itself toward the U.S., where it's launching two drugs, an osteoporosis remedy and an oral contraceptive, Hans van Zoonen, president of Warner's European and international operations, said in a statement. "The restructuring initiative will allow us to focus on growth opportunities that match Warner Chilcott's key competitive strengths, including the launches of Atelvia and Lo Loestrin Fe in the United States," said van Zoonen, who's also president of global marketing.

The company expects to take restructuring charges this year and next totaling $120 million to $130 million. Most of the charges will hit this year as the company lays off workers and pays severance, the statement said. And these charges come on top of $33 million in costs related to converting its Manati, Puerto Rico plant into a distribution center; that charge includes $7 million for severance pay.

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