Eli Lilly to Close UK Research Center, Affecting 270 Staffers

Locked Doors

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly announced it is closing its Erl Wood research center in Surrey, UK. The center focuses on neuroscience research. The facility is expected to close by the end of 2020, affecting 270 staffers, with 80 possible redundancies. About a third of the staff will move to another location nearby, but the company’s neuroscience research will move to the U.S.

Lilly indicates the closure is the result of a global review of its research operations.

“I know that this proposal will be difficult news for many working for Lilly in the UK,” Tim Garnett, Lilly’s chief medical officer, told the Basingstoke Gazette. “Our dedicated teams have delivered world-class research from Erl Wood for the last 50 years. They are some of the most talented people in the industry and this proposal is not a reflection on their hard work or skill.”

The company does not plan on changing any of its commercial infrastructure, which is located in Bastingstoke. Lilly also said the change has nothing to do with Brexit, the UK’s split from the European Union, which is facing yet another deadline on October 31.

“Like many pharmaceutical companies, we are evolving the way we work in order to discover the medicines of tomorrow,” Garnett added. “Whilst this brings real opportunities, it obviously means we are forced to make very difficult choices. Our focus now is on supporting our people and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. We will now enter a formal consultation with all the employees potentially affected.”

At the beginning of the year, on January 8, Lilly announced it was cutting 250 jobs at its factory near Strasbourg in Eastern France. The company employed 1,400 people at that facility. The stated reason was “modernization.” Those positions were made through a “voluntary exit plan” the company negotiated with local unions, which are very powerful in France.

At that point, Lilly indicated it planned to invest more than €100 million into new technology, including digitally connected products.

Digitization is the new trend in biopharma. Today, Paris-based Sanofi announced it has inaugurated the opening of its first new digital manufacturing facility for biologics production in Framingham, Massachusetts. The digital-enabled aspect of the manufacturing plant is designed to leverage better use of data to optimize manufacturing processes and increase efficiencies.

The company indicates that the factory will speed up the company’s recent transformation of its Industrial Affairs organization, focusing on biologics. The facility will be paperless and is expected to decrease the time it takes for products to transfer from development laboratories to the manufacturing plant and then to the marketplace.

Today’s news isn’t the only recent news of job cuts. On October 11, Five Prime Therapeutics indicated it will eliminate 70 jobs as the biotech company restructures to extend its cash runway. The restricting plan is expected to save about $20 million per year. The company, which focuses on immuno-oncology, plans to keep a small research team as it continues to advance its three late-stage programs through the clinic and, potentially, onto the market. It plans to leverage outsourcing and contractors.

Back to news