‘The UK is losing a significant presence’: Industry organisations react to Novartis news

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 28 Sep 2018

KEY business organisations that count Novartis as an integral part of their make-up have reacted to the proposal by the Swiss giant to close Grimsby’s pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.

A total of 395 jobs are at risk, with potentially scores more in the contracting community, once the impact on businesses supporting the Moody Lane plant is understood.

And while a buyer is hoped to be found for the top-grade site the highly likely loss of one of Europe’s best employers will leave a huge hole in the South Humber Bank that will be felt further afield.

Steve Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association, said: “The UK has lost a significant presence and we need to do all we can to ensure we attract and retain investment across the sector and the wider economy. 

“Grimsby and the community has a first-class innovator and employer in Novartis. We hope its talented workforce can find new jobs soon. Government, Industry and all stakeholders should work together to deliver economic, social and environmental growth for the region and the country.”

This is being evidenced with MPs making first steps to unite and do what they can to make the site as attractive as possible, if not to Novartis but a potential acquirer.

Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce has vowed to do all it can.

David Hooper, external affairs manager, pictured above, said: “It is 400 jobs, and contractors, a big hit for Grimsby. 

“These are high quality, high paid jobs and the loss of which is bound to have an effect on the local economy. It is encouraging that the company has pledged to try to find a buyer for the site, and the Chamber will be working with he company and MPs to try to secure a future. 

“Novartis has made clear it is no reflection on Grimsby or employees at their plant, it is part of a strategic review of what the company does and produces. They are changing from high-volume products, typically prescribed by GPs, and focusing on specialised and personalised medicines, dispensed in hospitals. These are not manufactured in Grimsby, the drugs produced at the moment are for blood pressure and diabetes, the active ingredients in tablets and medicines.” 

Major investments have been made in cell and gene therapy manufacturing in recent years, as Novartis has evolved its reach – but these have focused on plants in Basel and Stein. 

Last year, Kymriah, a cancer procedure that is tailored to work with a patient’s own cells, won the first approval of its kind in the US.

The company has also acquired the rights to take third party developments to market, with uses ranging from restoring the vision of those suffering a rare form of blindness to aiding children with neuromuscular disorders.

Novartis’ past departures:

RECENT exits from UK operations have brought mixed results for communities vacated by Novartis. 

The company’s Horsham plant – a research and development centre – closed in 2014 with the loss of nearly 400 jobs.

Two years later the local authority, West Sussex County Council, bought the site but consultations over its future use continue.

A more positive example, again from 2014, was the flu vaccine site in Liverpool, which was successfully sold to US firm CSL Behring in a £175 million deal, becoming Seqirus. 

Last year the new entity announced it was adding 88 jobs, taking employment to more than 700, as it brought finishing processes to the site in a £40 million investment. That will be fully operational next year. 

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