Updated | Redundancies hit Alvogen pharma operation in Malta

Pharmaceutical company Alvogen based at the Life Sciences Park informed around 25 employees that their job has been terminated • Economy Ministry says alternative jobs will be found

Alvogen is downsizing its Malta operation at the Life Sciences Park
Alvogen is downsizing its Malta operation at the Life Sciences Park

Updated at 4.45pm with Economy Ministry reaction

Around 25 employees of San Gwann-based pharmaceutical firm Alvogen have been made redundant, MaltaToday has learnt.

The employees were informed about their terminations on Wednesday. This equates to around a quarter of Alvogen’s Malta workforce.

Alvogen opened its regional headquarters in Malta in 2015, absorbing a lot of the workers that had been made redundant by Actavis when it closed its research and development arm soon after the March 2013 election.

Many of those who were made redundant had already passed through the trauma of redundancy at Actavis. The job terminations impacted scientists.

This is the latest round of redundancies in the pharmaceutical sector in Malta, which has experienced a mixture of downsizing by established firms and the relocation of new companies to the country.

In 2016, Israeli-based Teva, which bought Actavis, announced it was laying off 200 people from its Malta plants at Bulebel and Hal Far, as part of a global cost-cutting exercise.

Only last month, the Economy Ministry announced that PharOS, a Greek Pharmaceutical company, had reached an agreement with Arrowpharm – the Half Far plant of Actavis Teva – and Malta Enterprise to take over the factory building, equipment, and human resources.

Alvogen is based at the Life Sciences Park in the San Gwann industrial estate. It is a global, privately owned pharmaceutical company with commercial operations in 35 countries. It employs 2,800 people worldwide.

Alvogen’s chairman and CEO, Robert Wessman had previously piloted Actavis to the world’s number five generics manufacturer after taking over the company in 1999. Wessman than sold out of Actavis and joined Alvogen in 2009.

Economy Ministry reacts

The Economy Ministry said it was in contact with officials from Alvogen about the redundancies, which the company said were a result of a corporate decision within the group that effected their worldwide operations.

The ministry said the company's decision did not stem from Alvogen's Malta-based office and did not reflect Malta's economic climate and competitive edge in the pharmaceutical sector.

The ministry said it will help redundant employees find jobs within the pharma industry. "The government would like to reassure all employees affected by this decision that alternative employment will be found within the pharma industry... the government is committed to seeking alternative employment due to Malta’s robust economy and continuous investment in this sector, including through current legislative initiatives aimed at diversifying this thriving sector," the ministry said.

By current legislative initiatives the ministry is referring to a new law that will allow the manufacturing of medicinal cannabis in Malta. Three foreign companies have signed a letter of intent with Malta Enterprise to open shop in Malta.

One company, Nuuvera, has also acquired a Maltese pharma company in anticipation of its decision to have a manufacturing facility in Malta.

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