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Aptuit threatens to chop hundreds of jobs in Scottish plant closures

By Alexandria Pešić , 15-Dec-2010
Last updated on 15-Dec-2010 at 17:42 GMT

Aptuit said it may close two manufacturing facilities in Scotland with the loss of 340 jobs as a result of falling drug industry demand.

The US contract drug manufacturer revealed proposals to shut down its plants in Livingston and Riccarton, Edinburgh, UK in a phased withdrawal carried out over the next 12 months.

An Aptuit spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma the closures are being considered in response to “the continued economic downturn and pharmaceutical market dynamics.”

She explained that the early stage clinical development market has been severely impacted by the financial crisis, and “it is essential that we align our business to anticipate and meet the needs of the market place.

“We have experienced a reduction in demand for specific services at these sites for some time, with no short to medium term recovery to original levels expected. We must structure the company to the right size for the current economic climate.”

Aptuit has promised it will provide “significant support” to the affected employees in the event that a decision is taken to withdraw from the two locations.

Controversy over investment

News of the potential closures received some strong criticism in the Scottish press, in particular the Edinburgh Evening News, which described the plan as a blow to the pharmaceutical industry in the country.

Others questioned Aptuit’s plan in light of the £2.7m Regional Selective Assistance from the Scottish Government the firm received in 2007 to support local job creation.

A Scottish Government spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma: “The Scottish Government is disappointed to learn of Aptuit’s decision to reduce its Scottish workforce and understand this decision is due to global restructuring of the company’s worldwide business service.

Identifying “this will be a difficult time for Aptuit employees, their families and the wider communities affected,” the spokesperson reassures that the Scottish Government will help prevent job losses and support those affected.

While the company may halt operations at the Edinburgh units, Aptuit said its pharmaceutical development and manufacturing facility in the West of Scotland Science Park in Glasgow and its clinical operations centre in Bathgate, West Lothian, will not be affected.

Affected staff may be given the opportunity to transfer from the firm’s 200,000sq ft Riccarton plant, located within Heriot-Watt Research Park, as well as the Livingston unit, to the Glasgow and West Lothian facilities, said Aptuit.

Acquisition of GSK’s Italian R&D centre

The closures come after Aptuit acquired GlaxoSmithKline’s Italian R&D centre in July this year, sparing 500 employees from impending job axes and establishing itself as part of the drug giant’s CRO network.

The neuroscience research site in Verona has capabilities in drug discovery, lead optimisation, active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) development and manufacturing and preclinical and clinical support, and has been integrated with Aptuit’s operations in 18 other locations to reinforce its platform for serving global clients.

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