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Pfizer to Downsize Operations in Barceloneta Beyond 2017

By on June 7, 2017

The Pfizer logo is displayed at world headquarters in New York. (Mark Lennihan, File/AP)

Pfizer, which in 2013 had announced plans to close its Barceloneta plant by the end of this year, due to excess capacity in its global manufacturing network, will stay beyond 2017 in that town but only to manufacture a small amount of certain solid-dosage products.

The information was provided by Sharon Castillo, director of media relations for the pharmaceutical giant in New York.

Some of the production of solid oral-dosage tablet products, such as Glucotrol XL, Procardia XL and Cardura XL, will remain in Barceloneta past 2017, the company said. It is not clear how this would impact operations or if there will be any layoffs.

Castillo dismissed information received by Caribbean Business to the effect that the company would be shutting down all its plants in Puerto Rico. The company, which employs 2,700 people, also has manufacturing facilities in Vega Baja and Guayama.

“Pfizer is committed to continue being part of Puerto Rico’s business community,” she said.

Pfizer’s plant in Barceloneta has had a stable history in Puerto Rico with very few problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year fined the drugmaker $190,000 for failing to disclose information about hazardous chemicals that were used at the plant, which makes various pharmaceutical ingredients and finished medicines.

The penalty originated with an inspection that was conducted in early 2014 by the EPA, which found Pfizer stored ammonia and methylamine that exceeded permitted amounts. This triggered a requirement to file a plan, which Pfizer failed to do, and led to the fine, according to media reports.

The EPA in 2012 had fined Pfizer $216,000, which was later paid as part of a settlement reached in 2014 in which the company paid $318,000. The fine involved violations to the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Felipe Palacios, president of the Pharmaceutical Industry Association, which has 14 multinational drugmakers as members, said the pharmaceutical industry is stable in Puerto Rico but that it nonetheless remains “vigilant” about the economic uncertainties created by the island’s macroeconomic conditions.

According to the industry, the biopharmaceutical sector comprises 30% of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product, provides 78,000 direct and indirect jobs, pays more than $3 billion in taxes a year, pays out $1.1 billion in annual salaries, comprises 33% of the Puerto Rico general fund and has $10 billion in local assets.

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