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Alkermes cuts jobs in Ireland as Novartis invests

130 jobs to go at manufacturing facility in Athlone as Novartis creates 100 roles in Dublin

Alkermes cuts jobs in Ireland as Novartis investsAlkermes has announced plans to slash up to 130 staff at its manufacturing facility in Athlone, Ireland, in the latest piece of discouraging news for the country's pharma sector.

The news was offset however by Novartis' announcement that it plans to establish a business services centre at its Beech Hill site in Dublin, creating around 100 jobs.

Alkermes said its decision was a result of falling sales of some of the products manufactured at the plant. These products have lost patent protection and are coming to the end of their commercial life.

The layoffs will happen over the next two years and take place through natural attrition and a combination of voluntary and compulsory redundancies. They will provide annual savings of $15m-$20m by 2016.

Alkermes currently employs around 440 people at Athlone and at its headquarters in Dublin, many of whom came under its banner after the $960m takeover of Elan's drug technology unit in 2011.

A report in the Irish Times notes that the decision to cut staff at Athlone was at odds with comments made by Alkermes chief executive Richard Pops when the Elan deal concluded, in which he suggested that additional recruitment at the site was on the cards.

The news comes on the back of other cutbacks at Irish facilities in recent months, notably Merck & Co's decision to close its Rathdrum plant with the loss of 280 jobs, the shutting down of a GlaxoSmithKline financial services centre in Cork and the loss of 200 jobs at Abbott's medical devices production unit in Clonmel.

On the plus side, there have been gains for the Irish drug sector, including Sanofi's decision to spend €44m upgrading its Waterford facility and GSK's €76m investment programme in Dublin and Galway that could create up to 500 jobs. GSK also elected not to close a plant in Sligo operated by its Stiefel subsidiary.

Novartis unit
Meanwhile, Novartis said its new business services centre would "consolidate digital marketing, salesforce training and medical communications services" for the company. The unit will be housed temporarily at the Beech Hill campus while another permanent location is sought.

The pharma giant already has a significant presence in Ireland, employing more than 1,200 people in its two Cork-based manufacturing plants and its commercial operations in Dublin.

10th April 2013

From: PME

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