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May 19, 2010

Pfizer to cut 6,000 jobs

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc will cut 6,000 jobs, or 18 per cent of the workforce, at its 78 manufacturing plants over the next five years as it pares back operations following last year's purchase of rival Wyeth.

The firm plans to cease operations at eight plants in Ireland, Puerto Rico and the US by late 2015 and cut activities at six factories in those countries, plus Germany and Britain.

Pfizer had 40 manufacturing sites before acquiring more than three dozen Wyeth facilities in the October merger.

The affected plants make conventional pills, injectable medicines, biotech drugs and consumer healthcare products.
Pfizer will wind down their operations over the next 18 months to five years, depending on business considerations such as the time required to transfer product manufacturing.

The firm said in November it would close six research sites and trim jobs in the US and Britain as part of its absorption of Wyeth. It then began a six-month study of how to reconfigure its manufacturing sites.

"We have a complex network of manufacturing plants, with excess capacity that is not good for costs," Nat Ricciardi, Pfizer's president of manufacturing, said in an interview.

Pfizer can be more competitive, both in its operations and drug pricing, by streamlining its plants and improving their processes, Ricciardi said.

"It's not disproportionately Wyeth," Ricciardi said, adding that many legacy Pfizer plants and employees are on the target list. Half of the plants slated for ceased operations are legacy Pfizer sites, the firm said.

One of the biggest incentives for companies to merge is the ability to cut overlapping operations and employees. Pfizer said it is on track to realise total cost reductions from the deal of US$4 billion to US$5 billion (US$1 = RM3.24) by 2012.

Pfizer in early 2009, at the time the Wyeth deal was announced, said it expected to cut 15 per cent of the combined workforce - or almost 20,000 jobs.

The firm is counting on the savings to help offset expected plunging sales of its US$12 billion a year Lipitor cholesterol fighter, which will face generic competition late next year.


Source : BusinessTimes

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