UK feels the chill of Pfizer’s cost-cutting wind


Pfizer has fleshed out some more of the details of its wide-ranging cost-cutting drive announced last month, revealing that around 500 jobs will go in the UK, including at its R&D site at Sandwich in Kent.

The company has said the cuts will focus on its pharmaceutical sciences small molecule (PSSM) operations at its Discovery Park location in Sandwich, which has been a key location for Pfizer since the 1950s when it was used to produce antibiotics and has been the source of many new drugs including notably erectile dysfunction therapy Viagra (sildenafil). It currently employs around 940 people.

Most of the cutbacks will involve scientific roles, but some administrative staff will also lose their jobs. The timeframe for the changes is also short, with staff consultations taking place in the next six weeks or so and workers who are affected given notice in January. Some of the affected roles will move to other Pfizer locations in the US and India, according to news reports.

In October, Pfizer said it would slash staff numbers and cut R&D programmes in a drive to save $3.5 billion in costs by the end of next year as it faces a steep decline in sales of its COVID-19 medicines, including the Comirnaty vaccine and Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir). It took a $5.5 billion charge in the third quarter due to inventory write-offs and lower demand.

“Various areas of Pfizer’s global enterprise are making changes to operate more efficiently and effectively,” said a spokesperson for the company, who noted that the changes “will be implemented on a rolling basis and will differ area to area.”

Other recently announced measures taken by the company include the shutdown of its Peapack facility in New Jersey and two sites in North Carolina, as well as staffing reductions at sites in Illinois and Colorado, as it adjusts to the sharp fall in revenues.

“More information around this global programme will be shared over the coming months and as part of the full-year guidance for 2024,” said the spokesperson.

“We are proud of our heritage of breakthrough science in the UK, and we will retain a scientific presence in the UK, including at our Discovery Park location in Sandwich.”

15 November, 2023