Pfizer to outline plans to cut 180 Cork jobs

Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 01:00

PFIZER WILL this morning outline plans for about 180 redundancies to staff at two plants in Cork.

The job losses at the Ringaskiddy and Little Island plants are due to the expiry of patent protection on the cholesterol drug Lipitor, the world’s best-selling pharmaceutical.

The drug’s US patent expired in November. In April, European patents also lapsed, allowing generic competition into the market.

The union Siptu, which represents close to half the employees at the two plants, yesterday sought clarification of reports that 180 staff would lose their jobs.

“Siptu was aware that Pfizer was conducting a business review and is awaiting confirmation of the outcome of this process,” the union’s pharmaceutical, chemical and medical devices sector organiser Alan O’Leary said.

“The management of Pfizer recently communicated some information concerning this review process to our members,” Mr O’Leary added, “but this did not include any details concerning possible job losses.”

The 220 staff at the Little Island plant had been expecting bad news on jobs for some time as it is engaged exclusively in production of Lipitor.

It is understood that while redundancy proposals may be announced to staff at this morning’s meetings, they are unlikely to take effect until next year.

Siptu last night said that it had previously reached an agreement with the company that any proposed job losses would not occur in 2012.

Mr O’Leary said the company had given a commitment to revert directly to the workers once the review has been completed.

No one from Pfizer was available to comment on the expected job losses last night.

Pfizer has said previously that Little Island had developed a competitiveness strategy in order to compete with the generic market once Lipitor lost its patent protection.

Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceuticals business, has been one of Ireland’s leading employers, with more than 4,000 staff across eight sites in Cork, Dublin, Kildare and Limerick.

Last month the US group reported a steep drop in first-quarter profits due to Lipitor. Net income at Pfizer fell 19 per cent year-on-year to $1.79 billion.

Sales of Lipitor slipped 71 per cent to $383 million during the quarter.