Big Pharma's Manufacturing Strategy: What is the Next Move?

Pharmaceutical Technology's annual analysis of the pharmaceutical majors' activities shows a shrinking global manufacturing network amidst company restructuring, product intensification in biologics, and a strategic focus and push to emerging markets.
Aug 02, 2010
Volume 34, Issue 8

Change. In a nutshell, that is the word that best describes the strategies of the major pharmaceutical companies in managing their manufacturing and research and development (R&D) activities. Restructuring led by cost-savings initiatives, a shifting product-development and commercial focus to biopharmaceuticals, and an increased emphasis in emerging markets are the drivers behind the latest round of facility rationalization and capital investment.

Company activity

Pfizer. In May 2010, Pfizer (New York) detailed plans to reconfigure its global manufacturing network as part of the integration following its $68-billion acquisition of Wyeth (Madison, NJ) in 2009. The implementation of the first phase of Pfizer's plant-network strategy includes recommendations to cease operations at eight manufacturing sites in Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the United States by the end of 2015 and a reduction of operations at six other plants in Germany, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and the US. These changes will result in a global reduction of approximately 6000 jobs during the next several years.

Pfizer plans to discontinue manufacturing operations during the next 18 months to five years at three solid-dosage sites that manufacture tablets and capsules: those in Caguas, Puerto Rico; Loughbeg, Ireland; and Rouses Point, New York. Wyeth announced in 2005 that it would exit and sell the Rouses Point site. Pfizer also plans to phase out pharmaceutical solid-dosage manufacturing in Guayama, Puerto Rico, but that site will expand its consumer-healthcare operations. Reductions are planned at two other solid-dosage facilities in Illertissen, Germany, and Newbridge, Ireland.

Two aseptic facilities that make sterile injectable medicines are targeted for exit: Dublin, Ireland, and Carolina, Puerto Rico. Pfizer also plans changes to its biopharmaceutical-manufacturing network. The company plans to exit operations in Shanbally, Ireland, and Pearl River, New York. The Pearl River site, however, will remain Pfizer's Center of Excellence for vaccine R&D. Biotechnology plants in Sanford, North Carolina, Andover, Massachusetts, and Havant, United Kingdom, are expected to see reductions.

Pfizer plans to cease production of consumer-healthcare products at its plant in Richmond, Virginia, but consumer healthcare R&D operations will continue in Richmond. Pfizer said that R&D jobs in both Pearl River and Richmond will be unaffected by the planned manufacturing exits. The timing of specific exits will depend upon the complexity of operations, the amount of time required for product transfers, and other business requirements, said Pfizer in a May 2010 press release.

Table I: Top 50 pharmaceutical companies (Rankings 1–25).
Pfizer Global Manufacturing currently operates 78 plants internationally with a workforce of approximately 33,000. In outlining the changes to its manufacturing network, Pfizer also summarized how its transformed manufacturing network will look. Pfizer's solid-dosage network will include plants in Freiburg, Germany; Amboise, France; Vega Baja and Barceloneta, Puerto Rico; Ascoli, Italy; Newbridge, Ireland; and Illertissen, Germany. Its aseptic-manufacturing network will consist of plants in Puurs, Belgium; Perth, Australia; Catania, Italy; and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Its biotechnology-manufacturing network will consist of sites in Grange Castle, Ireland; Strangnas, Sweden; Algete, Spain; Havant, UK; Andover, Massachusetts; and Sanford, North Carolina. The consumer healthcare network will include plants in Guayama, Puerto Rico; Montreal, Canada; Albany, Georgia; Aprilia, Italy; Hsinchu, Taiwan; and Suzhou, Jiangsu, China. Studies of the plants in the company's nutrition and emerging-markets plant networks will begin later this year.

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