Pfizer Rumored to Begin Slashing Hundreds of Employees at North Carolina Facility

Pfizer Rumored to Begin Slashing Hundreds of Employees at North Carolina Facility October 4, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – Pfizer could begin doling out pink slips to several hundred employees at its Rocky Mount, N.C. manufacturing facility as the company continues to reduce redundancies in properties it acquired from its 2015 acquisition of Illinois-based Hospira.

Although Pfizer did not confirm that layoffs will begin today, or even anytime this week, a company spokesperson told WRAL TechWire that Pfizer was reducing manufacturing volume and “associated staffing levels at legacy Hospira at the legacy Hospira Rocky Mount, NC facility in the second half of 2016.” There are approximately 2,000 employees working at the facility—making the drug company one of the largest private employers in that part of eastern North Carolina. Earlier this year, Pfizer said changes in market demands were forcing the company to make the cuts.

In July Kim Bencker, head of communications for Pfizer Global Supply, told the Rocky Mount Telegram the cuts will include full-time employees as well as contract employees working at the facility.

“As part of the integration of Pfizer and Hospira, we continue to evaluate our combined manufacturing network to make sure that we were operating most effectively, using our capacity most efficiently and aligning production with product demand,” Bencker told the Telegram in July.

The Rocky Mount site has a history of manufacturing problems dating back to 2010 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to the facility. At one point the plant was operating a less than 70 percent capacity, according to reports. In 2014 the FDA flagged the plant with another warning letter noting the company was not making its injectors and vials were not properly sterilized. Hospira corrected the problem just in time for the Pfizer deal. Earlier this year, Pfizer recalled one lot of anesthetic drugs manufactured at the Rocky Mount facility after particulate matter was found in a vial of the drug.

When the Rocky Mount facility was under the Hospira banner, the site received about $200 million in construction of a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical laboratory in 2013, which included the hiring of an additional 200 employees. In 2015, the site was pegged as the home of a new $159 million, 58,000-square-foot-art injectable manufacturing facility. TechWire reported those plans have not changed. The new facility was not expected to require new staffing levels.

Pfizer is in the midst of a restructuring that could see the company divide itself into multiple entities. Ultimately Pfizer could be comprised of three units—Global Innovation Products (GIP) business, and Vaccines Oncology and Consumer (VOC) business. Last year, Ian Read, chief executive officer of Pfizer, said a decision would likely be made at the end of 2016. He reiterated that earlier this year after the Allergan deal fell through.

Since the $15 billion Hospira acquisition last year, Pfizer has been systematically shuttering some of the legacy sites it gained in that deal, including a Boulder, Colo. manufacturing facility that resulted in the elimination of 100 positions. When it acquired Hospira, Pfizer gained several manufacturing facilities across the United States, including the one in Colorado, as well as Rocky Mount, Austin, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y. and McPherson, Kan.

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