PharmExec Blog

Judgment Day for Pfizer Factories

For once, pharma sales reps and R&D guys can breathe a sigh of relief. The latest round of industry layoffs comes from Pfizer, but this time it will affect the manufacturing force, which will be downsized by 6,000 employees by 2015.

In 2006, the company announced plans to save $4 billion to $5 billion, and after its merger with Wyeth last year, Pfizer reported that almost 20,000 employees would feel the effects of those cost-cutting measures. The 6,000 layoffs announced yesterday are part of the previously announced 20,000.

The cuts are part of Pfizer’s “reconfiguring” of its global plant network. Eight plants in Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the US will be shut down over the next several years, with the process concluding in 2015. Six other plants will see reductions in work force. The hardest hit sites were solid-dose factories—three of the eight site “exits” are in Ireland.

Ireland will, in fact, be particularly hard hit. The financially beleaguered island posted a national unemployment rate of 11.4 percent in 2009, and has a debt 13 times larger than its GDP, according to CNBC. Irish newspaper The Independent reports that as many as 785 Pfizer employees could be given the boot, though the government and Pfizer hope the subsequent sale of the factories will preserve some jobs.

The six plant reductions are a little more geographically diverse, including one in the UK and another in Germany, and three are biotechnology manufacturers.

While the company didn’t offer specifics on its decision-making process for the cuts, Pfizer VP of external affairs Ray Kerins said they looked for sites where they could increase efficiency, reduce cost, and eliminate capacity for plants not operating at 100 percent.

“We’re ensuring that production is meeting market demands,” Kerins said.

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