Pfizer to Shutter Two UK Facilities and Lay Off 370 Over Four Years

Published: Nov 09, 2016

Pfizer to Shutter Two UK Facilities and Lay Off 370 Over Four Years November 9, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Pfizer  announced that it will be closing two of its three facilities in the UK. They will close over the next four years, and affect approximately 370 jobs.

One site is in London at Park Royal, which the company picked up when it acquired Hospira in September 2015. That plant is expected to close by May 2017. It currently employs 100 people, who are expected to lose their jobs. The Park Royal facility fills dosed vials with liquid medications.

Another side is its global cold chain packaging and distribution site in Havant, in Portsmouth. This facility is slotted for closure by 2020, and will cut 270 jobs. The operations at this site will be consolidated with Pfizer’s Puurs, Belgium location.

“These decisions have nothing to do with Brexit,” a Pfizer spokeswoman said in a statement. “This review process has been going on since 2010 and the team just felt there were more production capabilities at the site in Belgium to support future demand and to ensure we can support the supply chain.”

The company indicated that the Puurs site consolidation was due to the ability to leverage scale and more network flexibility. The Park Royal location, the spokeswoman said, is an “aging facility which will require significant investment in the near future and the lease was up.”

The company has a manufacturing site in south London which will take on some of the Park Royal operations.

Pfizer has not always had a smooth relationship with the UK government or its National Health Service (NHS). Three times Pfizer has attempted to acquire UK-based companies, AstraZeneca (AZN), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Allergan (AGN). Although those deals were scuttled primarily by opposition by the U.S. government by way of new rules by the U.S. Treasury Department regarding tax inversion deals, they were opposed by many in the UK government as well.

The Financial Times wrote about the GSK deal, that “it was widely agreed that any further attempt by Pfizer to buy a big UK drugmaker would need to be on a friendly basis to soothe domestic concerns.”

And in August 2015, Andrew Baum, an analyst with Bloomberg, wrote, “that [British] government resistance to preserve GSK as an independent listed company is materially higher than it was with [London-based] AstraZeneca.”

In terms of Pfizer and the NHS, it has criticized the government organization for slow timelines for breakthrough medications, and delayed or non-payment for drugs. “The UK has a tricky commercial environment and doesn’t always link life sciences investment to the way patients use medicines,” the Pfizer spokeswoman said in a statement, “but this decision is not linked to Brexit or medicines access.”

Pfizer indicates that it will work “to ensure its north London customers, with existing contracts, were able to find a new supplier without any disruption to supply.”

And today, with the election of President-Elect Donald Trump, Donald Tusk, the president of the European council and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European commission, sent a joint letter to Trump urging him to visit Europe for urgent talks “at your earliest convenience.”

They are looking for assurances on certain issues regarding statements he made during the election that have, according to The Guardian, “rattled European leaders, including migration, climate change and Russia’s threat to Ukraine.”

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