Elan to seek further redundancies

There was a further blow for staff at pharmaceutical giant Elan on Monday when it was announced the company will be seeking a further 29 redundancies following the loss of a manufacturing contract. The redundancies will be sought on a voluntary basis, with negotiations due to take place between staff and management over the next month. Elan had been manufacturing duloxetine (Cymbalta) for Eli Lilly, but Eli Lilly now plans to manufacture the drug in-house and will terminate its contract with Elan in November. The news comes as a further blow to the company, which earlier in the year made over 80 staff redundant when it wound down the fill finish area of the business at its Monksland facility. However, it is understood the redundancies resulting from the termination of the Eli Lilly contract were first flagged to staff in March, when management expected the job losses to be significantly higher. Management at the Monksland plant held a meeting with staff on Monday afternoon where staff were told the bad news. An Elan spokesperson yesterday (Tuesday) confirmed that the company is to seek 29 redundancies at the Athlone plant. In a statement issued to the Westmeath Independent the company confirmed that "it has officially advised employees that it is to seek 29 redundancies at its Elan Drug Technologies (EDT) facility in Athlone as a direct result of a decision taken by Eli Lilly to bring the manufacturing of duloxetine in-house where it has sufficient capacity to meet the demand for this product from 2010 onwards". A spokesperson for Elan continued: "Elan hopes to achieve these redundancies through a voluntary programme over the next month and is committed to working with employees during this period of transition." The news from Elan follows hot on the heels of a decision by Abiomed to halt its plans to create 250 highly skilled jobs at what it previously described as 'a centre of excellence' in Athlone. Fianna Fáil's Deputy Mary O'Rourke said she was very upset to hear the news of job losses at Elan and was upset for the workers. "It is a real blow. We rely so much on big companies such as Elan that when something like that happens it sends a shot through the whole community," said Deputy O'Rourke. She added that if Eli Lilly was able to manufacture the drug in-house, it was natural for the company to do so, but she hoped perhaps another company may be able to negotiate with Elan and said she would be making enquiries in that regard. Fine Gael's Deputy Denis Naughten said the news raised two issues, one regarding Ireland's competitiveness and the other regarding Elan's future. "There are growing concerns regarding competitiveness in all areas of manufacturing in this country. Over the last ten years we have lost our competitiveness across the economy, but especially in manufacturing. The concern is that up until now job losses in manufacturing have been in traditional manufacturing areas, now we are going to see a number of job losses in the high value added area of pharmaceuticals. It is a concern that needs to be address at a national level by the Tánaiste," said the South Roscommon deputy. In relation to Elan, Deputy Naughten said there had been hope locally of expansion of the facilities in Monksland due to a previous announcement by the company. The expansion was then to take place in Dublin and was later shelved. He said with the recent announcement of the Johnson & Johnson investment, hopes of the expansion had surfaced once again. "I think it is imperative that the Taoiseach, who is only down the road, meets with the management of Elan to see what steps are needed to ensure that any future expansion of Elan will take place in Athlone," said Deputy Naughten. His party colleague Senator Nicky McFadden said she was very surprised at the news as she had understood Elan was trading very well. She said she was very sorry for the people losing their jobs and their families and said the job losses would have a knock-on effect for the whole community.

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