Boehringer Ingelheim closing 1 of 3 U.S. API plants

Boehringer Ingelheim is closing an API plant in the U.S. because of excess capacity in its network.

The German company will shut down the 35-year-old API manufacturing facility at its three-plant complex in Petersburg, VA, by the middle of next year. Between 80 and 100 of the 340 employees that work there will be let go, spokeswoman Jaime Belitz told FiercePharmaManufacturing on Monday. 

"The age of the facility is a factor," Belitz said. "The other reason is the production demands of the overall company. Boehringer Ingelheim has four other chemical facilities in Europe. This is the only one in the U.S. With too much capacity, it doesn't make good business sense to keep it open."

The complex makes APIs for both its own use as well as on contract for customers. She said the three plants make nevirapine, telmisartan and dabigatran starting materials and intermediates for the company's blockbuster blood thinner, Pradaxa. Nevirapine is used for treating HIV infections and telmisartan is for treating high blood pressure. She emphasized that the two other production facilities at the complex will continue to make the APIs.

While the exact details of when the facility will close are unknown, Belitz said because of concern for its employees, BI wanted to give them as much time to prepare as possible. "Our focus is on taking care of our employees," she said.

Last month, Boehringer Ingelheim reported that sales in the first half of 2012 were up 6.8%, compared with €7.1 billion ($9.3 billion) last year. It said revenue was driven by its respiratory drugs Spiriva and Combivent, and by Pradaxa. While the company has claimed that Pradaxa had one of the most successful market introductions in recent years, the new-style blood thinner, however, is expected to hit significant competition later this year as some new drugs hit the market.  

- here's Boehringer Ingelheim's release