Pharma giant Pfizer is to cut around 500 jobs at its site in Kent.
Pfizer told Sky News it is winding down its small molecule (PSSM) pharmaceutical sciences operations at its Sandwich site, which employs around 940 people.
It is part of a company-wide cost-cutting program, Pfizer said, due to lower-than-expected sales of its Vaccines against covid-19 and treatment.
Affected staff were notified in a brief announcement Tuesday morning, and consultations on layoffs will take place over the next 45 days, according to a Pfizer employee who worked in the PSSM unit.
Staff are expected to be notified of their exit date in January, Sky News understands.
Of the 500 job losses, most are scientist roles, but administrative roles are also being lost.
The PSSM unit manufactures medicines for clinical trials and helps to scale up the production of new medicines.
It is understood that the roles will be moved to other locations in Chennai, India and Connecticut in the US. Staff being laid off at the Sandwich site will work on transition projects for those locations.
A Pfizer employee told Sky News that the Sandwich operation mostly works on tablets and some intravenous drugs – rather than vaccines and COVID drugs such as Paxlovid.
Most of the staff were surprised by the layoff announcement, the employee said.
While job cuts were expected, staff believed that 20% to 30% of the unit could be killed, rather than the entire PSSM operation in Sandwich.
“Different areas of Pfizer’s global business are making changes to operate more efficiently,” a Pfizer spokesman said.
“These changes will be implemented on a rolling basis and will vary from area to area.
“More information about this global program will be shared over the coming months and as part of the 2024 full-year guidance.
Last month, Pfizer cut its revenue forecast by 13% and announced $3.5 billion.
In previous years, however, record revenue was reported thanks to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine with the German biotech company BioNTech.