BMS mothballs another Puerto Rico Plant

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Puerto rico, Pharmaceutical drug, Pharmacology

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has revealed plans to close another site
in Puerto Rico in its latest cost-cutting move.

The company announced it will cease operations at its Barceloneta manufacturing plant by the end of 2008. The firm said the decision was as a "result of the decrease in market demand for a number of the mature products produced at the site​" as well as being part of an "optimisation​" of its manufacturing network. Products manufactured there are oncology and HIV medicines as well as the antibiotic Maxipeme, which went off patent last year. A BMS spokesperson told that some products will be transferred to other BMS site and others to third-parties and the company real estate will determine how to decommission site once it is closed. Around 225 employees will lose their jobs as part of the site closure. The spokesperson said: "As positions get phased out, employees will be offered severance benefits in accordance with the company's Puerto Rico plan.""They will have the opportunity to apply for other positions they are qualified for within the company. Additionally, we have two other sites in Puerto Rico - Manati and Humacao that will remain open and are sites where we have invested."​ This is the second site on the island that BMS has mothballed in the past few months. In October, the company announced the closure of a plant in the city of Mayaguez that makes cardiovascular and diabetes drugs, a move that will wipe out 400 jobs. Puerto Rico is one of the world's top five drug-manufacturing hubs, primarily due to its close proximity and trading ties with the US, as well as its low cost base and tax breaks, however, the island has incurred a sting of blows of late as many companies have been scaling back operations. Pfizer, Schering-Plough, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Teva Pharmaceuticals, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Patheon and Wyeth, as well as BMS, have all slashed jobs there in the past couple of years for reasons ranging from cost-cutting measures, to the mothballing of sites due to regulatory concerns. Over 3000 jobs have been eradicated so far. The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing a transformation phase as it experiences unprecedented patent expirations and financial cut backs. At the same time, the industry is also moving away from blockbuster drugs towards more targeted therapies and biologics. "We have fallen victim to this situation​," said Enrique Mirandes, Director for Life Science at the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company of Puerto Rico (PRIDCO)in an earlier interview with, explaining that solid dose manufacturing is one of the main areas to suffer. Puerto Rico has over 60 solid dose manufacturing facilities, which is a large concentration, "so because of this we are experiencing a disproportional closure of manufacturing sites and resultant excess capacity. BMS' response to the pharma industry's changing business environment was revealed in December, when it detailed plans to trim the fat and save cash, months after first revealing that big changes would be on the cards. Amidst sweeping restructuring plans, around 4,300 positions are facing the chop between now and 2010 - equivalent to 10 per cent of the drug behemoth's global workforce - and 1,300 employees have already received their marching orders. Additionally, however, the firm is also planning to mothball over half of its 27 manufacturing facilities during the same period. Its recent actions in Puerto Rico are part of this. Meanwhile, its not all cut backs at BMS. In an earlier conference call, CEO James Cornelius said: "The challenge is to reduce costs while at the same time continue in investing in growth areas". "With a promising R&D pipeline, we plan to invest further in R&D and the business including specialty medicines and biologics where we see tremendous growth potential." ​ Puerto Rico is one such region benefiting from investment in this area. Despite the fact that BMS has earmarked two solid dose facilities on the island for closure, it is investing in two new biologics sites. The firm is spending $220m on creating a centre of excellence for the fill and finish of sterile parenterals, at a site in Manati, and $60m on a centre of excellence for high potency drugs.

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