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BMS and GSK close Puerto Rico plants

BMS and GSK will both close manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico as a result of reduced demand for drugs in the region

US-based Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and the EU's largest pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will both close manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico as a result of reduced demand for drugs in the region.

BMS is closing a plant that makes heart disease and diabetes medicine in western Puerto Rico, shedding about 400 jobs. The closure, the result of reduced demand for the medication, will occur in stages and be completed at the end of 2008, according to a press statement released on 31 October.

The plant, which has been in operation for 36 years, produces Pravachol (pravastatin) for heart disease and Glucophage (metformin) for diabetes. Production of Abilify (aripiprazole), which is used to treat bipolar disorders and schizophrenia, will be transferred to other plants.

BMS operates manufacturing facilities in three other Puerto Rican cities.

The company recently renovated its plant in the northern city of Manati, investing USD 220m over two years, according to Puerto Rico's Industrial Development Company. BMS envision that Manati will be the center of production for biological medications on a global level.

GSK revealed on 24 October it would also close a plant in Puerto Rico because of declining sales of its diabetes treatment Avandia (roseglitazone) and growing competition from generic medication.

The company will transfer production of Avandia and the related drug Avandamet to other facilities and reduce its work force in Cidra from 900 to about 250 by the end of this year, according to a GSK spokesperson.

Avandia sales have been damaged by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2007, which said the drug raised the risk of heart attack by 43 per cent. The FDA ruled in July that Avandia could remain on the market, but may put a ìblack boxî warning on the drug's label.

30th September 2008

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