Pfizer to cut 400 jobs at Sanford plant

Posted May 18, 2010 9:07 a.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2010 3:49 p.m. EDT

— Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday it will cut 6,000 jobs, including 400 manufacturing workers at its vaccine plant in Sanford, as it trims its manufacturing capacity worldwide after acquiring smaller rival Wyeth last year.

The world's biggest drugmaker says it will cease operations at eight plants in Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. by the end of 2015, and reduce operations at six other plants over the next several years. The plants make a range of pharmaceutical and consumer health products.

The New York-based company said in April it would cut 20,000 jobs as part of the Wyeth integration.

The Sanford cuts represent almost half of the 850 people who work at the plant, but spokesman Rick Chambers said the reductions will be made over five years and aren't imminent.

Affected employees affected will receive severance packages, career or retirement advice and help searching for other jobs within and outside of the company, Chambers said.

Last November 2009, Pfizer announced it would discontinue research operations in Sanford and Research Triangle Park by 2011.

Under the plan announced Tuesday, Pfizer will cut operations at pharmaceutical plants in Caguas, Puerto Rico; Loughbeg, Ireland; and Rouses Point, N.Y. The company plans to shut down injectible medicines plants in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Dublin, Ireland. Other shutdowns include biotechnology plants in Shanbally, Ireland, along with consumer health care plants in Richmond, Va., and Pearl River, N.Y.

Pfizer said the timing of specific exits will depend upon the complexity of operations, the amount of time required for product transfers and other business requirements.

"The restructuring of our global plant network is critical to our efforts to remain competitive so that we can continue to meet patient needs and expand the access and affordability of our medicines," Pfizer global manufacturing president Nat Ricciardi said in a statement.

In addition to Sanford, the company plans to cut jobs at plants in Guayama, Puerto Rico; Newbridge, Ireland; Andover, Mass.; Havant, U.K.; and Illertissen, Germany.

Overall, the company operates 78 plants internationally and employs about 116,000 workers.

Pfizer said it is evaluating options for its animal health manufacturing sites, and recommendations are expected by the end of June. Poultry health operations in Durham and Laurinburg aren't affected by Tuesday's announcement.