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New York plant set to close as Novartis continues cutbacks

More than 500 employees face the axe
Novartis building

Around 535 workers are facing redundancy following a decision by Novartis to close its manufacturing facility in Suffern, New York, in the next two to three years.

The process to close down Suffern will start in the coming months and continue through 2016 or 2017, according to Novartis, which said some employees may be able to transfer to other facilities.

Novartis has been re-drawing its manufacturing footprint over the last few years, closing down older facilities making legacy products and building new ones in order to improve efficiency in its production processes.

The decision to close Suffern comes as Novartis is finally facing the start of generic competition to blood pressure blockbuster Diovan (valsartan) in the US, despite a delay caused by manufacturing compliance issues at Ranbaxy, which has first-to-file exclusivity for the generic in the US market.

Diovan is one of the main products made at the New York facility, along with malaria treatment Coartem (artemether/lumefantrine). At the moment, the intention is to demolish the plant although local officials said they would start a campaign to try to find a buyer.

Last November, Novartis chief financial officer Harry Kirsch gave an update on the company's manufacturing restructuring programme, indicating that it has exited or divested 18 of more than 100 sites worldwide since 2010 when the programme got underway.

Since then, the company has also announced it would shut down a facility operated by eyecare subsidiary Ciba Vision in Canada with the loss of 300 jobs and started a consultation phase on the possible closure of its Horsham R&D facility in the UK, which places another 370 positions under threat. Manufacturing at Horsham was shut down in 2011 with the loss of 550 jobs.

Just last week, the company said it would cut 500 jobs in Switzerland, though counterbalanced that by saying it would add several hundred more in areas such as over-the-counter (OTC) manufacturing and oncology R&D.

Article by
Phil Taylor

23rd January 2014

From: Sales

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