Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is closing one of its UK plants within the next four to five years because most of the drugs made there are to lose their patent protection.
GSK, the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical company by revenue, said that 60% of the production at its Dartford factory, which employs 620 people, comprises two drugs – Lamictal and Valtrex.
The patent for Lamictal, which is used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder, expired earlier this year and generic competition for the drug will hit US pharmacies in July. Valtrex, which is used to treat herpes, will see its patent expire next year.
The loss of the patents mean that sales of the two drugs will dry up over the next few years in the face of competition from generic drug companies.
Joe Foley, director of GSK’s Dartford plant, said: “The proposal (to shut down the plant) is no reflection on the professionalism and commitment of Dartford employees, but that of the fiercely competitive environment in which the pharmaceutical industry operates.
Less than a week ago, the drug maker, which employs about 100,000 people worldwide, announced that it is to reduce its US sales force by 1,000 to cut costs amid growing competition from generic drugs.
Copyright Press Association 2008