Pfizer opens £26m UK packaging facility

pharmafile | October 19, 2010 | News story | Business Services, Manufacturing and Production Pfizer, packaging, recruitment 

Pfizer officially opened a new biotechnology packaging facility in Hampshire, UK, on October 15, with a ceremony attended by UK Science Minister David Willetts.

Willetts said Pfizer’s decision to invest in the facility at Havant was a “big win” for the UK’s life science and manufacturing base.

“I’m hugely encouraged that even in these tough economic times the world’s largest research-based biopharmaceutical company has chosen the UK to make this significant investment,” he added.

The new unit is a welcome boost for the Havant facility, which has seen its staff numbers cut back in recent months as part of a downsizing of Pfizer’s Global Manufacturing division, partly as a consequence of the company’s merger with Wyeth in 2009.

In May, Pfizer announced 90 jobs would be cut at the former Wyeth plant, which at the time employed around 400 staff. The Havant site, which at its peak employed more than 700 staff, had already been cut back under its former owner as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Havant is a major hub for Pfizer, and Wyeth before it, and is used for the packaging and distribution of some of its biologic drugs and vaccines including Enbrel (etanercept) for rheumatoid arthritis and vaccine products such as Prevnar/Prevenar for pneumococcal meningitis.

In addition to the new packaging unit, additional investment in packaging lines and additional cold storage facilities is planned for 2011, said Pfizer.

“This investment in the new packaging hall at Havant demonstrates our aim to ensure this state-of-the-art facility remains a centre of expertise for cold chain distribution and packaging,” commented Pfizer UK’s managing director Richard Blackburn at the opening ceremony.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) said in a statement that inward investment by life sciences companies is hugely important to the country as the government “works to rebalance and grow the UK economy”.

In 2009/10, the UK attracted 173 life sciences investment projects, generating nearly 8,500 jobs, it added.

Phil Taylor

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