Pfizer plans shutdown of Boulder plant by 2019

BOULDER — Officials for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) on Wednesday told Boulder employees that the company would be closing down its local manufacturing facility by 2019 and eliminating the 100-plus jobs there.

The 50,000-square-foot facility at 4876 Sterling Drive came under Pfizer control following the company’s $16 billion acquisition of Hospira last year.

Pfizer spokeswoman Joan Campion said no layoffs have occurred at the site, yet. She said that the exact timing of the layoffs isn’t yet clear, but noted that they will occur in phases over the next three years. She said Boulder employees would be considered for manufacturing jobs elsewhere within Pfizer. The company operates 63 plants globally, though the Boulder site is Pfizer’s only facility in Colorado.

Campion said the decision to cease Boulder operations follows an analysis of Pfizer’s and Hospira’s combined manufacturing capabilities that determined there is “underutilized capacity” within the company’s network.

The Boulder facility makes various active pharmaceutical ingredients, including paclitaxel, tromethamine and irenotecan. The APIs are then shipped to other production sites to be used in high-potency sterile injectable products treating a range of conditions. Campion said production of the drugs made in Boulder will be transferred to other sites.

“The recommendation to exit the site is not a reflection of the work performed at Boulder, but rather is based on a number of factors, including the existing capacity within Pfizer’s manufacturing network and the efficiency of consolidating manufacturing to fewer locations,” Campion said.

The closure is a blow for Boulder’s bioscience sector, which last month saw Clovis Oncology announce that it would eliminate 35 percent of its jobs by the end of the year.

But Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council, said he’s hopeful that many of the affected Pfizer employees will be able to land locally. He noted that some 125 bioscience companies account for roughly 4,700 jobs in Boulder County, and that the Boulder-Denver region as a whole is seen as a bioscience hub thanks largely to the University of Colorado campuses. While there have been layoffs and exits from the sector locally, AstraZeneca is in the process of ramping up operations at a former Amgen site in east Boulder.

“It’s always painful to know people are losing their jobs,” Harald said. “But we’re pretty confident that with the growth in other companies those people will be able to find other opportunities, if not in Boulder, then nearby.”