Pfizer shuttering vitamin C plant in California, 70 workers out of jobs

Several years ago, Pfizer ($PFE) added California-based Alacer to its consumer health business. But now it has decided it doesn't need a plant in California that came with that deal and will close it in May, laying off the 70 workers there.

The drugmaker recently filed a WARN notice with California saying it was closing the plant in Foothill Ranch by May 5. In an emailed statement the company said it would move manufacturing of its Emergen-C product line to a facility in Pennsylvania.

"To more efficiently support the expected growth of its Emergen-C product line, Pfizer is consolidating its manufacturing for that product line to its facility in Carlisle, PA. and consequently is closing its Foothill Ranch, CA facility," it said in an emailed statement. "This was a difficult decision to make because of the impact it will have on our colleagues in Foothill Ranch, Calif., and we are committed to working with them and supporting them throughout this process."

Pfizer says that Emergen-C products is the largest selling branded Vitamin C line in the United States. The effervescent powdered drink mix offers 1,000 mg of vitamin C, B vitamins and electrolytes. When Pfizer bought Alacer in 2012 for an undisclosed sum, the California company was already producing about 500 million Emergen-C packets a year, which sold for $10 a box.

While the Emergen-C plant is closing, the drugmaker recently gave a reprieve to a facility in Ireland it had on its list of facilities that were no longer needed. The drugmaker recently acknowledged that a pickup in demand in emerging markets for its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor led it to retain the plant in Little Island, Cork County. A changed manufacturing process that relies more heavily on water has also played a part in keeping the facility viable.

- find the WARN notice here