Abbott Laboratories is planning to cut around 3% of its workforce over the next two years, with the vast majority affecting Solvay Pharmaceuticals, acquired for 5.2 billion euros by the US major in February.

The restructuring follows "a thorough assessment of Solvay’s R&D portfolio, manufacturing operations, global support functions and commercial organisations". As a result, Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel told PharmaTimes World News,  the changes will affect around 3,000 employees.

Specifically, he said, Solvay's US pharma headquarters in Marietta, Georgia will close by the end of 2011, but most of the cuts will happen in Europe. Some 500 posts at Weesp in the Netherlands and 300 jn Hannover, Germany, will go, although the sites are not closing down, Mr Stoffel stressed.

The restructuring will see Abbott take pre-tax charges of $810-$970 million over the next two years, including employee-related costs of $650 million. In addition Abbott will incur one-time costs of about $135 million in the second half of this year and $175 million in 2011 related to integrating Solvay.

Abbott did not specify the savings it expects from the restructuring but has previously said that the Solvay would add $0.10 to earnings per share and more than $0.20 by 2012. The Illinois-based group concluded that the plan "streamlines operations, improves efficiencies and reduces costs in certain Solvay sites and functions as well as in certain Abbott and Solvay commercial organisations in various countries".

Abbott recently abandoned plans to sell Solvay's vaccines business, due to the low price being offered by potential purchasers.