UNITED KINGDOM – Pfizer is set to eliminate around 500 positions and discontinue its Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule (PSSM) capabilities at the Sandwich site in Kent, U.K., as part of the company’s broader cost realignment program, revealed in mid-October.

This move follows Pfizer’s recent US$3.5 billion cost-cutting campaign, which initially impacted its operations in Ireland and now extends to the U.K.

A company spokesperson, addressing the layoffs, stated, “This is one of the consequences of Pfizer’s enterprisewide cost realignment program.”

Despite record sales driven by its COVID-19 vaccine, a decline in demand for vaccinations has led to Pfizer experiencing its first quarterly loss since 2019, prompting the need for cost-saving measures.

While the Sandwich site will undergo significant changes with the discontinuation of PSSM capabilities, the spokesperson clarified that the site will not shut down entirely.

Currently employing approximately 940 individuals, the facility will retain other functions with adjustments to its size.

Kent Online previously reported that Pfizer was considering terminating all lab and manufacturing activities at the Sandwich site, known for being the place where Pfizer scientists discovered Viagra.

During the pandemic, Pfizer invested £10 million (US$12.5 million) in advanced manufacturing technology at the facility to expedite the development of COVID-19 drugs.

Pfizer’s spokesperson affirmed the company’s commitment to maintaining a scientific presence in the U.K., stating, “We are proud of our heritage of breakthrough science in the UK, and we will retain a scientific presence in the U.K., including at our Discovery Park location in Sandwich.”

Beyond the PSSM division, Pfizer’s Sandwich site accommodates employees in medical and safety, regulatory, and clinical development and operations roles.

The site will continue to operate, although potential changes are anticipated as Pfizer evaluates its operations.

The timing of the layoffs remains unspecified, and the restructuring aligns with Pfizer’s broader goal to achieve US$3.5 billion in annual cost reductions by the end of 2024.

These cost-saving measures come amid uncertainties surrounding future sales of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, Comirnaty, and antiviral Paxlovid.

This recent round of job cuts follows a reduction of 100 employees at Pfizer’s Irish manufacturing plant in Newbridge, Kildare, where staff worked on the production of the company’s oral COVID medication, Paxlovid.

Additionally, Pfizer previously announced the elimination of around 200 positions at its Kalamazoo, Michigan site, responding to shifts in demand for its COVID products.

As part of the ongoing restructuring, Pfizer has confirmed the closure of its Peapack, New Jersey facility in early 2024.

Of the approximately 791 affected positions, the majority will be reassigned to Pfizer’s New York headquarters.

Expectations of job cuts extend to Pfizer’s operations in the U.S. and Ireland, as the pharmaceutical giant navigates the evolving landscape of global healthcare.

In July, Pfizer invested £19 million (US$23.7 million) in the Cambridge-based biotech company CellCentric.

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