Pfizer Shutdown in India May Affect Over a Thousand Workers

Lab workers
Workers prepare bottles of homeopathic medicine Vidatox at LABIOFAM, the Cuban state manufacturer of medicinal and personal hygienic products, in Cienfuegos, Cuba, December 3, 2018. Picture taken December 3, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)

Pfizer has announced the shutdown of two generic injectables manufacturing plants in India, potentially affecting around 6 percent of the company's global workforce.

Reuters reports that the U.S. drug provider made the decision after demands for generic injectables such as penicillin went down. In an email, the company stated, "Pfizer has conducted a thorough evaluation of the...sites in India and concluded that due to the very significant long term loss of product demand, manufacturing at these sites is not viable."

In 2015, Pfizer acquired the plants as part of its whopping $15 billion purchase of Hospira Inc., an international pharmaceutical that boasted of almost 20,000 workers before it the acquisition.

The shuttered Maharashtra site provides some products to the Chennai unit and while the closedown may have an impact on other plants, Pfizer did clarify that it is looking to expand its Visakhapatnam operations.

Despite the clarifications, the announcement is bad news for the local workforce as the company hires approximately 1,700 employees for the two plants stationed at Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Experts have expressed unemployment concerns for those whose livelihood relies on the manufacturing sites.

According to the Times of India, site workers stood outside the office in Waluj, Aurangabad on Wednesday, hoping to thwart the immediate and shocking decision. However, the laborers' efforts did not materialize. Operations were ordered to cease immediately while a full-blown exit has yet to be announced.

The outlet further states that workers said the shutdown announcement came Tuesday, giving them no time to search for work options. Pfizer has yet to respond to more serious questions raised by its former employees.

Pfizer owns a couple more sites in India. These include the ones in Vishakapatnam and Goa. The company has explained that the red signal given to the Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra sites will not have an impact on the other plants, including the joint plant located in Ahmedabad.

Locals in Aurangabad are reportedly in shock after receiving the news. The town's industrial sect has only started to recover from a recent demonetization. Furthermore, the town has experienced industrial disputes that have yet to be settled.

Meanwhile, another shutdown has caught the attention of experts and locals alike. Pfizer has also decided to halt operations on its Taramani, Chennai research and development lab. When asked if the latest closure is related to the other two, spokesperson Steven Danehy said the Chennai shutdown is a different story.

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