The Jacarepaguá plant produces rivotril and diazepam, among other products, many of which are off patent and produced in high volume.
A statement from the company explained the decision: “In light of the evolving product portfolio and future lower production volumes, Roche took the difficult decision to plan the phase-out of operations at the manufacturing site in Rio de Janeiro.”
The facility currently produces treatments for the Latin American and European market. Once the facility is shut down, the company will import medicine from overseas – though it will retain business units in Sao Paulo and Goias.
The reversal comes after Roche had committed to a five-year investment of R$300m ($75m) in 2015, to modernise the facility’s infrastructure.
The long-term plan for Roche is to sell the facility, which currently employs 440 staff members. However, in a statement cited by local news provider, Valor, Roche’s country head, Patrick Eckert, suggested that this would not lead to any positions being lost in Rio de Janeiro as a result of the decision.
Similar investments were seen across a number of companies in the Brazilian pharmaceutical industry, as the country’s economy flourished and firms looked to establish the country as a hub within Latin America.
However, Brazil’s economy has weakened considerably in the last few years, amid political upheaval, which has led the cost of importing raw materials in the country to rise and has therefore made production less profitable.