Abbott cuts jobs, closes plant in Ireland

By Katrina Megget

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Abbott

Abbott is to shut its doors on its Galway, Ireland, facility -
taking 500 jobs with it - as the market moves into murky waters
over the future of vascular stents.

Despite the US drug giant receiving the thumbs up from as US advisory panel, which recommended approval for Xience V Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System just last week, Abbott Vascular has announced it has "excess manufacturing capacity".​ Seven-hundred people at Abbott's Temecula, California, facility, which also manufactures stents, are also expected to loose their jobs, though the facility will continue to operate. The slashing comes as a result of "significant improvements in manufacturing efficiency"​ and "current market conditions"​ in the stent sector, an Abbott statement said. In October, a Business Week article discussed the recent controversy over stents - are they more effective than a cocktail of drugs? The article noted that surgical procedures for implanting stents had dropped 13 per cent in the US this year, with a JPMorgan Chase report estimating that sales of drug-coated stents could plummet 23 per cent in 2007. Already Johnson & Johnson has announced job cuts, with many in its stent sector affected as a result of the market. "While we realize these changes are difficult for our employees, right-sizing Abbott Vascular is essential to remain a strong performer in a very competitive and important business . . . Abbott regrets the impact today's announcement will have on its employees,"​ the company said in a statement. The move does not impact the company's Clonmel facility in Ireland that employees 1300 people and will continue as a vascular manufacturing centre for Abbott. The closure and cuts are not part of a wider restructuring process by the company. The company has entered a 30-day consultation process with affected employees and is identifying employment opportunities in other Abbott manufacturing sites in Ireland, of which there are six following the closure of the Galway plant. The future of the Galway plant was uncertain as to whether the company would sell it, Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel told in-PharmaTechnologist.com. While the move reflected the current market place, Stoffel said the company's forecasts expected the market to reaccelerate. Stoffel said the company would announce the financial impact of the closure and job cuts in January in the fourth quarter results. A wind-down of operations is expected to begin in mid-January and to be completed by the third quarter of 2008. Abbott is not the only pharma company with a shaky future in Ireland. Back in October, Amgen announced 'indefinite postponement' on plans for its $1bn (€0.71bn) manufacturing facility in Cork, Ireland, following a "global assessment"​ of the company's manufacturing needs. Some 79 staff were to be affected by the news. In August, Gilead Sciences decided to ditch its plans to build a new €60m plant in Dublin, Ireland, instead acquiring Nycomed's Irish manufacturing facility in Cork for almost €34m. While the move still meant the US company had a presence in Ireland, the change of plans leant towards possible job cuts rather than increasing the work force, which would have been the result had the company built in Dublin. And in February, Pfizer announced it was trimming its API manufacturing operations in Ireland, with part of a site in Ringaskiddy being closed by the end of year, and two additional API sites being completely phased out over the next two years. But it is not all doom and gloom for the Emerald Isle - last month Merck said it would invest $280m on its third facility, for vaccines and biologics, in south east Ireland. Abbott recorded in its third quarter results that global sales of coronary stents reached $163m in the three month period, and reached $489m in global sales for the first nine months of 2007.

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