Boehringer Ingelheim said last week it would close an API plant in Petersburg, VA, next year and lay off 240 workers. But that is not the only U.S. plant of the German drugmaker facing big cuts. The company is closing down some of its Ben Venue operations at the troubled Bedford, OH, plant, laying off up to 400 workers by the end of this year.
When asked for an update on its Ben Venue Laboratories plant in Bedford, which is the subject of a federal consent decree, spokeswoman Julia Löffelsend pointed to a June update on the Ben Venue website. It says "Ben Venue will cease production in one of the company's older manufacturing facilities and … aseptic filling operations of drugs manufactured in the company's oldest manufacturing facility, both by the end of 2013." The company "will concentrate production in the company's newer, more commercially sustainable facilities."
The notice says the company will continue to employ about 800 people at the manufacturing complex. Löffelsend said in an email today that Ben Venue currently employs about 1,200 people there, but "the actual number of roles Ben Venue will eliminate is yet to be determined based on our ongoing organizational redesign work."
Löffelsend said the Bedford manufacturing facility "is not losing contracts" but will execute the plan it announced in August 2011 to get out of contract manufacturing and concentrate on its own generic sterile injectables business.
In 2011, the Ben Venue plant was savaged by the FDA for a long list of serious manufacturing shortcomings. The plant had 40 product recalls from 2002 until it voluntarily closed some operations in November 2011. Among drugs that fell into short supply when that happened were Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Doxil, a commonly prescribed cancer drug. In January, the company agreed to a consent decree that found the FDA walking a fine line between company accountability and drug accessibility. The decree barred the plant from manufacturing some drugs until the agency is satisfied that problems at the plant have been rectified. But the FDA also allowed it to continue to manufacture 100 drugs considered "essential for patient care." The company has said it has invested more than $300 million on improvements at the plant since the 2011 citation.
The company last week announced it would phase out production at its API plant in Petersburg, cutting about 240 jobs as the plant prepares for a final closure at the end of next year.