GSK beefing up in U.S. drug and inhaler plant

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has been having a tough time of it with its respiratory blockbuster Advair, whose sales were off 17% last quarter. But with growth of other respiratory products like Breo and a new inhaler device line being built, the U.K. company says it needs more workers at a plant in North Carolina.

GSK's plant in Zebulon, NC, will add about 100 people this year and 30 or so next, according to a GSK spokesperson who confirmed a report in the Triangle Business Journal. The facility makes and packages more than 30 GSK meds, including Advair and newer respiratory drugs Breo and Anoro. In 2014, GSK manufactured 200 million tablets and capsules and filled 65 million inhalers at the facility. It also has packing lines that handled 112 million units.

There are already about 850 employees on the Zebulon site and GSK has invested about $90 million in the facility in recent years. In March, GSK started construction on a 65,000-square-foot expansion for a new assembly line for the Ellipta inhaler that is expected to be completed in January 2017.

The hiring news comes as reports surfaced that Parexel ($PRXL) will ax up to 200 of the 450 former GSK R&D workers from the U.K. company's North Carolina operations that it took on last year in a deal with client GSK. A spokeswoman confirmed the cuts to the Triangle Business Journal and said they would play out over a two-week period starting Sept. 30. The employee move to Parexel was part of a GSK move to cut about 900, many of them in RTP.

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