Pfizer to shut Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule operations at Discovery Park affecting 500 staff

Discovery Park

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Pfizer is to shut Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule (PSSM) at Discovery Park with a loss of 500 roles as part of cost cutting measures announced last month.

The pharmaceutical firm plans to cut $3.5 billion worth of jobs and expenses across its business this year and future years due to falling sales of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Several US sites and one in Ireland have already been impacted and today (November 14) staff at the PSSM operations at Discovery Park were informed of the cuts.

Staff received an email last night informing them of a meeting this morning when the closure of operations was announced. The announcement was made by Pfizer senior vice president PSSM Andrew McKillop. He is due to fly back to the US tomorrow.

A Pfizer spokesperson said: “As previously announced, Pfizer has launched an enterprise-wide cost realignment program. Various areas of Pfizer’s global enterprise are making changes to operate more efficiently and effectively. These changes will be implemented on a rolling basis and will differ area to area.

“One of the consequences of this program is a plan to consolidate our Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule (PSSM) capabilities, aligned around our portfolio priorities.

“Therefore, the company has made the difficult decision to propose a discontinuation of our PSSM operations at Sandwich, Kent, impacting approximately 500 roles. Under the proposals, other functions at our Sandwich site will continue with a different size.

“We are proud of our heritage of breakthrough science in the UK and we will retain a scientific presence in the UK including at our Discovery Park location in Sandwich.

“These proposals are now in consultation with the affected colleagues. All job-related decisions will be made with transparency, respect, and in compliance with all applicable laws. More information around this global program will be shared over the coming months and as part of the full-year guidance for 2024.”

A 45 day ‘consultation period’ is now taking place.

East Kent`s MPs Craig Mackinlay, Sir Roger Gale and Natalie Elphicke have expressed their regret following the announcement.

In a statement they said: “The loss of employment locally will undoubtedly be a challenging development for the affected staff and their families.

“However, we should also note that Pfizer intends to maintain a presence on the Sandwich site, and we highlight the significant strides made by Discovery Park in evolving into a world-leading science park. The diversified functions at the Sandwich site underscore the park`s resilience and potential for growth. The strength of Discovery Park as a hub for scientific innovation will offer opportunities for those affected, and whose jobs are not transferred to other sites, to explore alternative employment within the same campus.

“We are committed to supporting the affected employees during this transition and are working closely with Pfizer to ensure transparency, respect, and compliance with applicable legislation throughout the consultation process.”

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for what will be East Thanet, Polly Billington, said: “It is very concerning for Thanet’s economy and worrying for the 500 employees and their families in the run up to Christmas. We need an industrial strategy that builds on the skills and talents of the local workforce and creates jobs in energy, construction, science and tech.”

Pfizer has been based in Sandwich since 1954.

In February 2011, Pfizer announced it would be closing the entire research and development facility at Sandwich within 18–24 months, with most of the 2,400 workers at the site being made redundant.

In June of that year Pfizer renamed the Sandwich site ‘Discovery Park’ and put it on the market for sale. In the same month, Pfizer announced it would retain 350 jobs at Discovery Park, subsequently increased to 650 in November 2011. Pfizer sold the freehold to the Discovery Park site to Discovery Park Ltd in August 2012. As part of the sale, Pfizer agreed to take a lease of around 250,000 sq ft of offices and laboratories at the site.

23 Comments

  1. What a terrible world we inhabit. A company that helps to save lives is forced to close its operations at Discovery Park, while one of its neighbours has a sustainable business selling weapons designed to kill people

    • Ian they will have observed the current multi million pound landmark legal case against Oxford-AstraZenca citing severe covid vax harms to recipients, and will know of the doctors and scientists (let alone the life insurance industry) examining similar for their Pfizer covid experimental jabs. Non of it safe or effective – with a vast scandal unfolding before our eyes on the amount of excess deaths and suffers of serious side effects globally.

  2. Déjà vu…..the amount of money Pfizer make yet they dismiss staff at a drop of a hat if they are not making more billions.

  3. In todays world money is more important than people. And yet without clever people who can develop and make drugs that we use everyday. These companies would be worthless.

  4. I completely agree with the comments. It’s incredible that a company has to close sites, and employees are treated as bargaining chips, all just to please greedy shareholders. Shame on everyone!

  5. I was told that Pfizer still own the freehold of the discovery park.
    Not sure if that’s right but when one considers that they discovered the drug Viagra, which become world-famous. I was one of the big guinea pigs on that trial it was originally being made for heart problems, then it was discovered that it was very beneficial for erectile dysfunction made they made £billions from it. Then closed down the Sandwich site.

  6. Ms Pink, Pfizer had a ward at kent and Canterbury Hospital unfortunately when us guinea pigs were given the medication, which later became known as Viagra staff never gave us enough water to take the tablet with so we all ended up with stiff necks. 🙂

  7. Thats a shame, too many people got taken in by anti vaxxers which doesn’t help anyone except those spreading the misinformation. Anyone can make Viagra now so very hard to make money.

  8. Blame KCC for this, approximately 8 years previous to the duel carriageway being built, Pfizer were begging for road improvements to aid there staff and businesses associates with there ever increasing businesses, promising more investment to become the main base over the others in Britain, but KCC did nothing. By this time Pfizer realised KCC were not serious partners and began the scale down of the business in Sandwich which employed thousands in Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Shepway. Then KCC offered and built the duel carriageway, too little too late. Now more poor people will lose there jobs. Bloody Tories

  9. The pharmaceutical industry has been winding down in this country for the past twenty years and in Kent since GSK went. All political parties of both colours have no interest in this. We can throw billions in subsidies at factories to build batteries but nothing to encourage highly paid jobs in this country as once they lose a foothold they will never come back.

  10. They took subsidies, tax breaks and all that and did a runner as soon as they needed to ride out a few losses with the billions they’ve made over the years it’s ridiculous.

    Sad for all the people locally that had their livelihood devastated

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