Sanofi to shut Irish plant

By Anna Lewcock

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Company Sanofi-aventis

In the latest of a rash of pharmaceutical plant closures,
Sanofi-Aventis has announced proposals to cease operations at its
Waterford, Ireland site.

The site, which manufactures mature and over-the-counter (OTC) products including Essentiale (polyene phosphatidylcholine) for liver protection and Flagyl (metronidazole) for microbial infections, is expected to close by the end of the year following discussions with authorities and working groups. Although the closure has not been formally stamped and the proposal must undergo a 30-day consultation, a spokesperson for the company told that "there really seems no alternative"​ to the closure plans. Shutting down the plant will result in around 200 job losses. The decision to cease operations at the plant came following an evaluation of the company's plant network, which concluded that there was excess capacity and that other Sanofi sites would be able to absorb the Waterford product volume with little extra investment. The products manufactured at the site will be split between two sites in France and one in Germany, where the Essentiale is already manufactured. "Although the plant was old it was efficient,"​ a company spokesperson said. "But with mature products coming to the end of their cycle and increased pressure from generics and pricing pressures, this seems the best option for the company."​ Since the merger of French companies Sanofi-Synthelabo and Aventis back in 2004, there have been a series of plant closures and restructuring initiatives to deal with excess production and capacity in the newly formed company. Sites in Spain and Italy have been closed and merged, and plants in Slovakia and Portugal were also sold off. However, according to the company, there is no more restructuring planned globally for the time being, although the company will "obviously have to continue looking at operations and capacity over the years".​ The company is also reeling from "the relentless tightening-up of regulatory measures imposed by the health authorities,"​ which caused the company to lose a sizeable chunk of its business and forced 504 job losses in sales and company headquarters. As well as this, the infamous Plavix (clopidogrel bisulphate) patent disputes that have been bouncing back and forth over the last few years have not helped Sanofi's situation. Waterford itself was rather small in terms of Sanofi sites, and generated sales of around €46m in 2006 out of the company's €28.4bn. Just last month other pharma heavyweight Pfizer announced that its Irish plants were to be hit by restructuring plans, with the closure and sales of plants in Ringaskiddy, Little Island and Loughbeg. However, despite the consolidation trend sweeping across pharmaceutical manufacturing in an attempt to tackle the challenges posed by generics, patent expiries and pricing pressures, the news isn't all bleak for the Irish manufacturing scene. For example, County Waterford itself, where the Sanofi site is due to close, was recently chosen by GlaxoSmithKline as the location for a €23m facility for the production of OTC medicines. Earlier this year another major pharma, Eli Lilly, also announced its intentions to invest in its Irish facility to fulfil the company's biotech drug manufacturing plans. Last year, biotech firm Amgen also announced a $1bn (€0.76bn) investment in new manufacturing facilities in Cork, due to become operational in 2009 and employ 1,100 people by 2010.

Related topics Ingredients

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more