Glasgow & West Scotland

Plant closure threat to 250 jobs

Generic tablets
Image caption Merck took over the Newhouse site last year

A US drugs firm is to close its Scottish plant by the end of the year, with the potential loss of 250 jobs.

Merck, known as MSD in the UK, took over the research site at Newhouse, North Lanarkshire, last year.

A statement from the firm said it regretted the closure, which it said was to help the company consolidate its global operation.

The plant, which sits by the side of the M8, is at the forefront of drug development.

Merck is the world's second biggest drugs company.

As well as the Scottish plant, the firm also announced plans to close its distribution centre in Mildenhall, Suffolk, as well as a further seven research sites and eight manufacturing plants around the world.

The move comes just over a year after the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough. The firm has said it will now enter into a 90-day consultation period.

'Devastating blow'

A Scottish government spokesman said Finance Secretary John Swinney had arranged to meet senior management at Merck next week to "explore alternatives".

"This is potentially very disappointing news and this will be an anxious time for employees, their families and communities affected," the spokesman said.

"Officials are also in contact with the company and will continue discussions to help minimise the impact of this announcement."

Meanwhile, Labour MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, Karen Whitefield, said she would be seeking an urgent meeting with management over the Newhouse closure.

"This is a devastating blow to Newhouse and wider Lanarkshire and will come as a bolt out of the blue to the employees who have done world class work in life sciences over the years," she said.

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