Pharmaceutical firm Sanofi axes 450 Newcastle jobs
A pharmaceutical plant on Tyneside is to close with the loss of 450 jobs.
French-based Sanofi, which specialises in vaccine development and diabetes treatments, said the posts were going at its facility in Fawdon, Newcastle.
The company, which briefed staff about the decision on Wednesday morning, said the drug manufacturing site would close down in 2015.
The company blamed the closure on the growing use of low-cost generic drugs and the European economic downturn.
A company statement said: "Under the proposal the plant, which makes solid dose oral medications mainly for UK and European markets, would be scheduled to close by mid-2015.
"The proposal is being considered in the context of an adverse economic climate and the challenging pharmaceutical market in Europe.
"The products manufactured at the Fawdon site have been adversely impacted by other factors, including generic competition, resulting in a fall in demand and production volumes."
A spokesman said consultations had begun with staff.
Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central and Shadow Minister for Innovation and Science, said: "Like most people in Newcastle I am shocked and deeply saddened by the announcement that Sanofi is to close its pharmaceutical plant.
"Growing up in Kenton I know just how important to people in Newcastle the works are.
"This is a major blow to manufacturing in the North East."
Newcastle councillor David Faulkner, who represents Fawdon, said: "It's a terrible blow to the local economy and especially to the Fawdon area, where many people work in the factory.
"It's only three years ago that I was at the opening of an extension to the plant.
"We thought that this was a strong, viable factory, but market conditions seem to have changed very quickly.
"This demonstrates the vulnerability of the North East as a branch economy. International investment has been welcomed, but we are always especially vulnerable to decisions made by head offices elsewhere."