Pfizer closes plant earmarked for Exubera

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pfizer, Penicillin

Pfizer is planning to close its Terre Haute, Indiana manufacturing
facility which had received $300m of investment to prepare it for
Exubera production.

The money has been ploughed in since 1999 but Pfizer pulled the plug on Exubera last October after the drug once touted as a potential blockbuster suffered a series of setbacks. Pfizer is maintaining that the plant's closure is unrelated to Exubera's failure or the effectiveness of the site and is instead citing falling demand for the antibiotics produced at the facility. Nat Ricciardi, president of Pfizer global manufacturing said: "This decision is not a reflection on our highly skilled colleagues nor on the community of Terre Haute. It's simply a business reality that we must address​." The future of the plant has seemed bleak since Pfizer slashed the workforce by 660 in January this year and warned the remaining staff that the facility may close in the future. Production of antibiotics will continue at the plant until the middle of next year when the remaining 140 employees will leave the facility for the last time. Over this time a stockpile of Unasyn (ampicillin/sulbactam) and Pfizerpen (penicillin G potassium) antibiotics is to be built up buying Pfizer the time to consider whether to continue production elsewhere. There are a decreasing number of options for alternative sites of production as Pfizer continues its plan to close at least 22 sites over a two year period, which will result in savings of $2bn. Pfizer expects to have shed 10,000 employees by the time it has reduced the number of production sites to 44. Although there have been undoubted casualties from Pfizer's cost cutting regime opportunities abound for astute businesses. Numerous manufacturing plants have come onto the market, being picked up by companies including Actavis and Keata Pharma. The fate of the Terre Haute site is unclear with Pfizer spokesman Rick Chambers telling "We are looking at our options for the site. Ideally, we would like to see it continue to be used by someone else and thus continue to benefit the community and the state economically. ​"We will work closely with economic development officials to find a continued use for the site​." There is also a possibility that the plants machinery will become available, as has occurred at the liquidation of Pfizer's Groton, Connecticut plant. This brought a plethora of machinery used in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients onto the market. A full listing of the sale can be found here​.

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