GlaxoSmithKline is to cut 200 jobs at its Barnard Castle, County Durham plant over the next 12 to 18 months as a result of a decline in demand for the nausea drug Zofran, which is manufactured at the site.

Roger Connor, site director at Barnard Castle, said that the firm “very much regrets the need for these proposed job losses but they are essential to remain competitive within the global pharmaceutical market”. He added that “it is a difficult proposal for the company to make” but emphasised that “it is not a reflection on the quality of our staff or on our commitment to the Barnard Castle site”.

Around 960 staff currently work at the facility, which produces over 40 drugs. However the site’s principal product is Zofran (ondansetron) for chemotherapy-induced nausea, which is already coming under pressure from generic competition. Third-quarter sales of the drug fell 9% to £33 million.

News of the Durham cuts comes a month after GSK announced it was closing its manufacturing site in Dartford in 2013, which will result in the loss of 620 jobs. The closure is due to reduced demand for Lamictal (lamotrigine) for epilepsy and bipolar disorder and Valtrex (valaciclovir) for herpes.

Cervarix price cut in South Africa
Meantime, GSK has slashed the price of its cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix in South Africa. David Pritchard, general manager of the firm’s operations in the country, announced a 36% reduction in the price to 450 rand per dose, about £30.

Mr Pritchard noted that in a developing country such as South Africa, “affordability is an important issue and with this reduction in cost we will be bringing the cervical cancer vaccine within direct reach of many more South African women". He added that GSK hopes to work in close partnership with other stakeholders including government “to further increase the availability of cervical cancer vaccines through better infrastructure, wider distribution, better disease awareness, education and affordability”.