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Sanofi Plans Layoffs At Swiftwater

Sanofi Plans Layoffs At Swiftwater [The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.]

From Morning Call (Allentown, PA) (December 13, 2009)

Dec. 12--Swiftwater vaccinemaker Sanofi Pasteur , one of Monroe County’s largest employers, announced plans Friday to reduce its work force by an unspecified number over a two-year period.

The vaccines division of Paris-based drug maker Sanofi-Aventis is trying to streamline production and boost efficiency, according to the statement.

"A number of positions will not be needed in the future, and the employees who hold these positions will be given support to find alternative positions either within Sanofi Pasteur or outside," the statement said.

The shake-ups are expected to start at the end of the month and continue for two years. Company spokeswoman Ellyn Schindler said it was too early to determine how many people will lose their jobs.

"We are not providing this information because we are still exploring opportunities for impacted employees to find other positions in the company," she said.

The move is the latest blow to the Monroe County labor market, which counts Sanofi Pasteur as one of its largest employers, with more than 2,000 employees in 2008.

The unemployment rate in Monroe County hit 9.8 percent in October, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. That’s up from 9.4 percent in September. There were 8,300 people out of work in Monroe County, up from 5,900 in October 2008.

The news comes on the heels of a press conference last month when Sanofi officials announced employees were working around the clock to deliver the 75 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine that it promised by the end of the year.

The initial government contract, announced in May, was valued at $190 million. Exactly how much the government has paid the company for subsequent shipments of the H1N1 vaccine is unclear.

Also unclear is how the government contract has affected the financial situation of the company. Schindler said she was not prepared to comment beyond the statement that was released.

In July, soon after Sanofi-Pasteur began developing its H1N1 vaccine, parent company Sanofi-Aventis announced a major corporate restructuring. The world’s third-largest pharmaceutical firm said it was reorganizing research operations to boost innovation. The plan included offering voluntary buyouts to an unspecified number of employees in France, plus closing four research sites and possibly selling a fifth one there. But the company said it was not planning any layoffs.

Reporter Spencer Soper and The Associated Press also contributed to this story

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Posted: December 2009