Increased demand in China and North America for an anti-cholesterol drug has thrown a lifeline to 136 Pfizer workers who will retain their jobs, at least until the end of this year.
The company had announced in 2013 plans to close the Little Island plant in Co Cork, advising employees at the site would be made redundant.
However, greater competitiveness and increased market demand for cholesterol-busting Lipitor and two new cancer drugs have helped to secure the Little Island jobs for the next 12 months.
Concerns were previously raised about future production levels of the drug after the Pfizer patent expired.
The company said post-patent markets are extremely competitive and volumes remain unpredictable but, fortunately, Lipitor was still performing well, especially in the Chinese, North American, and European markets.
In addition, Pfizer said two new cancer drugs, Xalkori and Iniyta, being produced at the Little Island plant, were also making market impacts.
Pfizer said Viagra was still in significant demand and sales of the anti-fungal Vfend are also buoyant.
The company said previous restructuring programmes. which led to increased competitiveness, were also a factor in the decision to extend operations at the Little Island plant until at least the year end.
Pfizer, meanwhile, had also announced in 2013 the proposed shedding of 100 jobs at its Ringaskiddy plant, also in Co Cork. However, last summer, the company lifted the job losses threat due to increased consumer demand for its products.
The company believes the jobs are now secure, unless there was an unprecedented market event.
“There has been significant change in both the Little Island and Ringaskiddy sites driven by increased competitiveness delivered by both sites and also by increased global demand from many key markets for the medicines manufactured at both sites,” said Pfizer’s director of corporate affairs, Karen O’Keeffe.
“This has led to an increase in manufacturing volumes which is welcome news for colleagues.”
Job security at the Ringaskiddy site was further reinforced after it was chosen last year for a €25.3m investment in a new product technology laboratory.
When fully operational, it will focus on developing complex therapies to deal with some of the most devastating and difficult diseases to cure.
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