US pharma major Pfizer Inc has decided to shut down its manufacturing units in Irungattukottai, Chennai and Aurangabad, Maharashtra, which came to it through an acquisition of injectables manufacturer Hospira in 2015.
Over 1,700 employees working in these two factories are expected to be impacted by the decision. While the company is shutting down the two facilities, plans are afoot to expand the Vizag manufacturing facility, which also came as part of the acquisition.
Pfizer said that it conducted a thorough evaluation of the Irungattukottai and Aurangabad sites and concluded that due to a significant fall in product demand, manufacturing at these sites is not viable. “As a result, Pfizer is announcing that both the Aurangabad and Irungattukottai sites will immediately cease manufacturing with the intention to exit both sites as soon as possible in 2019. The exact timing of the exit of the sites is to be determined,” said a Pfizer spokesperson.
The Irungattukottai facility currently employs around 1,000 people and Aurangabad site employs around 700. “Our focus is on our colleagues impacted by this decision and we are committed to keeping them informed of the site exit process,” added the company.
The Irungattukottai facility was producing beta-lactam antibiotics while the Aurangabad facility was manufacturing penicillin and penem API during the period. It was coming up with a green field expansion plant in Vizag for speciality injectables then.
The Chennai facility has received several observations from the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) in the past, the latest being in July 2018. This was because it was not following quality control norms and lacks data related to laboratory records.
The facility had earlier received observations from the US FDA as part of inspections in 2013 and 2015, according to reports.
The Irungattukottai and Aurangabad sites are purely export-oriented and do not supply products for Pfizer’s India commercial operations.
The decision to close down these facilities will not affect its other Indian manufacturing sites in Goa, Vishakapatnam (Vizag) and the joint venture site, Zydus Hospira Oncology Pvt Ltd (ZHOPL), a collaboration with Cadila Healthcare formed to manufacture injectable cytotoxic drugs in Ahmedabad.
The company announced an expansion to its operations at the Vizag site to bring it up as a global terminally sterilised manufacturing centre of excellence. It will cater to the export markets, such as United States and eventually, to Canada. India will continue to be an important manufacturing location for Pfizer worldwide, said the company.