The 1,000,000 square foot facility, which was established in 1992, currently employs 1,300 people in the production of over 140 drug formulations for the European, African, Australasian and Latin American markets.
Although the firm has yet to issue a definitive statement on the cutbacks, an article in the Irish Independent suggests that the move is in response to “lower production volumes and the need to reduce [overall] costs”.
The news was largely unexpected, particularly given Wyeth’s €5m ($6.7m) expansion of its Irish pharmaceuticals division in January when it created 24 new jobs and new medical, regulatory, corporate affairs departments at its base in Ballycoolin, Dublin.
The company’s move is a further blow for Ireland’s drug industry following recent staffing cuts made at the local subsidiaries of both health care major Abbott Laboratories and Pfizer.
On a global scale however the cuts are in line with Wyeth’s programme of cost savings which, as recently as last week, saw it make 61 redundancies at its distribution centre in Henrico county, Virginia, US.
Wyeth had not responded to in-PharmaTechnologist.com’s questions at the time of publication.
Cuts increase vulnerability?
Wyeth’s cuts also mirror the general restructuring trend sweeping through the pharmaceutical sector. As the era of blockbusters draws to an end, the prevailing wisdom among drugmakers has been to reduce staffing levels and manufacturing capacity.
While this approach is widespread in the sector, some observers have started to suggest that hastily made cuts in the wrong places may have damaging unintended consequences in the longer term.
Once firm to raise such a concern was Irish business analyst World Class Solutions (WCS), which counts both Wyeth Medica and Pfizer among its clients.
The firm believes that cuts and harsh restructuring measures can significantly damage responsiveness, which is a critical feature of the pharmaceutical industry.
WCS CEO Pat Hough said that: “Many companies are looking at ways to save money. They rightly suspect that many of their processes are inefficient but the reaction is to cut budgets across the board.
He argued that if such cuts are made to critical activities the firm in question can begin to struggle, resulting in a downward spiral from which it is difficult to recover.
Hough was speaking at the launch of WCS’ new website, www.uniquevision.eu , which is designed to allow firms to employ its system of critical activity trace (CAT) analysis in strategic decision-making.