PARIS, March 15 French drugmaker Sanofi
said on Thursday it plans to close a plant in northern
England as it contends with European health spending cuts and
growing competition from generic drugs.
The Fawdon plant near Newcastle, which makes drugs including
top-selling blood-thinner Plavix for the British and European
markets, is expected to close by 2015 with a loss of around 450
jobs, a company spokesman said.
Sanofi is reorganising some of its research and development
and manufacturing operations as it prepares for the arrival of
generic rivals to Plavix in May.
The company had disclosed plans in September to reduce its
R&D headcount to 10,000 from 13,000 - excluding Genzyme, the
maker of treatments for rare genetic disorders it bought last
Like its peers, Sanofi is facing a tough market in Europe,
where governments have moved to curb the rising costs of
healthcare in harsh economic times. Governments are by far the
biggest buyers of medicines in Europe, giving them a big
influence over prices.
Pharmaceutical industry executives have complained that
excessive price pressure from governments threatens to inflict
long-term damage to drug research in their countries for the
sake of short-term budget cuts.
The chief executive of Pfizer, the world's largest
drugmaker, said this week that Europe is undermining drug
innovation by slashing prices, raising barriers to new medicines
and "freeloading" off Asian and U.S. customers who are more
willing to pay.