Pfizer to close Puerto Rico plant

Pfizer ($PFE) continues to suffer from post-patent revenue issues and so continues to close plants to balance its manufacturing needs. The next plant in line to close is a facility in Puerto Rico.

The drugmaker said Wednesday that it will shutter the plant in Barceloneta by 2017 but doesn't know yet how many employees will lose jobs as a result. It has three plants and about 2,700 employees on the island, according to the Associated Press.

About a year ago, Pfizer sold a 1.4 million-square-foot plant in the San Juan suburb of Caguas to Mexican drugmaker Neolpharma, which said it would keep the 130 employees.  It also had for sale a plant in Carolina, Puerto Rico, that makes injectable drugs. 

Pfizer has been making cuts around the globe as sales have fallen after losing patent protection for Lipitor and other drugs. In September, it said by 2015 it would close a plant in Sydney, Australia, where about 140 workers manufacture both human and animal medications. It unloaded 30 plants in the last year as the company sold off its nutritional business, 5 plants, to Nestlé and spun off its animal health business, 25 plants, to Zoetis.

The latest announcement is a tough one for Puerto Rico. Last week, Merck ($MRK) said it would cease production at an active pharmaceutical ingredient plant in Barceloneta late next year and move the formulation and packaging done at the facility to a contractor. It also intends to move formulation operations at its plant in Arecibo to its Las Piedras facility, and all of that work will go to a contractor by the end of 2016, it said. The pharma didn't say how many jobs would be eliminated in that move.

- read the Associated Press story