Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

AbbVie cuts 29 sales jobs as lipid exclusivity ends; Zoetis hormone grows jobs, too.

More than a year after Mylan said it would shut its manufacturing plant in Napa, CA, and lay off all workers based there by the end of this year, those plans remain shrouded in mystery as the company remains mum on details of what it will do and when.

And while Mylan responded Thursday night to GEN queries about the plant, the company said little except to cite its June 2012 announcement. There may be a reason for that: The company appears to be awaiting word from Napa County, where the Board of Supervisors agreed in April to buy the roughly 25-acre plant property from Mylan for $24.85 million. The county wants to move its Health & Human Services Agency there.

That deal is subject to a 120-day due-diligence period ending in August—14 months after Mylan disclosed plans for the shutdown and layoffs, citing cost and availability of lower-cost alternatives.

Back then, the plant employed 267 workers for Mylan Specialty, focused on branded specialty nebulized and injectable products. How many people work there now is not known. Bruce Wilson, director of the Napa-Lake Workforce Investment Board, told the Napa Valley Register in March that Mylan based “around 200 employees” there. Wilson was on vacation this week and did not respond to a GEN query about the plant.

The Mylan layoff was one reason why in May, the county board accepted an additional $700,000 grant from California’s Employment Development Department to aid laid-off workers, though the funds can assist people downsized by other companies.

AbbVie: Sales Jobs Sag with Lipid Franchise

AbbVie got some attention earlier this year when it axed 96 R&D researchers. Turns out the branded biopharmaceutical spinout of Abbott Laboratories wasn’t through pink-slipping employees.

The company last month alerted the Illinois that it laid off an additional 29 workers: “The June 26 notification was in regards to a reduction in our U.S. sales force due to a loss of patent exclusivity for our U.S. lipid franchise,” AbbVie spokeswoman Adelle M. Infante told GEN on Tuesday.

During the first quarter, AbbVie said in a 10-Q filing it saw a 29% drop in sales at constant exchange rates for its consolidated lipid franchise, without furnishing dollar amounts. Two key lipid drugs, TriCor and Trilipix, saw sales fall a combined 50% to $128 million following the launch of generic TriCor last November. Sales of another lipid drug, Niaspan, dipped 3% year to year during Q1, to $186 million.

Niaspan may see generic competition in September, and Trilipix no later than January 2014 but perhaps as early as this month—so the lipid franchise should fare even worse this time next year.

Zoetis: Synovex Grows Jobs Along with Cattle

Zoetis, the animal drug developer spun out of Pfizer in February, told GEN this week that its plan to hire up to 30 more workers at its Lincoln, NE, manufacturing plant had nothing to do with current or projected future demand.

“It is solely the production of Synovex and transfer of production from a third party that sparked the expansion in Lincoln, not increased demand for any other products,” Zoetis spokesman Bill Price said.

Synovex is Zoetis’ family of growth hormone implants for beef cattle. Until now, Zoetis and predecessor Pfizer have been producing the drug through an undisclosed third-party manufacturer. The new company wants to bring production in-house—adding up to 30 jobs at peak production to the site’s current workforce of more than 500.

Synovex will join several Zoetis products manufactured in Lincoln—including Bovi-Shield Gold® and RespiSure One®, both for livestock, and Rimadyl® for dogs. Lincoln is one of Zoetis’ largest internal manufacturing operations, a roughly 1 million-square-foot facility that serves as the company’s global center for making animal health vaccines. The plant produces 1,200 finished goods for more than 100 markets annually.

Zoetis won’t disclose the expansion cost, but will say it plans to break ground later this summer on the 19,000 square-foot, three-story expansion, for which the company has begun early stages of planning and construction.

“Construction is expected to be completed in 2014, but it is too early in the process to speculate on when we can expect the peak number of new jobs to be created,” Price said.

Share your news of biopharma employment ups, downs, and trends with JobWatch. Please email Alex Philippidis at [email protected] or via Twitter at @AlexWestchester.

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