UK drug giant GSK is to shed 200 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Barnard Castle, County Durham to cut costs ahead of generic competition for products made at the facility, which include the anti-emetic Zofran (ondansentron).
A GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) spokesman told in-PharmaTechnologist that the proposed redundancies will improve the site’s reactivity in the changing and competitive industry.
He added that the cutbacks also address “an anticipated significant decline in demand for one of the site's key products, Zofran, as a result of generic competition.
“Barnard Castle will continue to have a strategic role as one of a small number of new product Introduction sites with a planned investment of £17m (€20m) next year in addition to the £48m invested over the past two years.”
This point was reiterated in site director Roger Connor’s statement. He said that: “GSK very much regret the need for these proposed job losses but they are essential to remain competitive within the global pharmaceutical market. “
The job cuts, which will affect all manufacturing functions at the 60-acre site, are being rolled out over the next 18 months. So far, 48 of the 961 permanent staff GSK employs at Barnard Castle have agreed to take voluntary redundancy.
The facility makes 44 of GSK’s roster of drugs, including some of its sterile liquid and liquid inhalation productions in addition to several of the firm’s topical and cephalosporin-based anti-infectives. It also carries out tablet manufacturing operations and has capacity for blister and bottle packaging.
GSK has been enacting cutbacks in the last few years through its 2007 “Operation Excellence” restructuring plan, which is designed to generate cost savings of £700m by 2010.
So far this year, GSK has unveiled plans to close its facilities in Crawley and Dartford, both in England, again citing the likely impact of increased generic competition as the reason for the move.
Additionally in June the firm said that it is still considering the future of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production facility in Montrose, Scotland that was originally earmarked for divestiture in 2003.