Sanofi is to close its manufacturing facility in Newcastle, UK, a move which will see the loss of around 450 jobs.

The French drugmaker sent a statement to PharmaTimes World News saying that the Fawdon Manufacturing Centre, which makes solid dose oral medicines mainly for UK and other European markets, is scheduled to close by mid-2015. Sanofi states that "the proposal is being considered in the context of an adverse economic climate and the challenging pharmaceutical market in Europe".

Furthermore, 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". Drugs made at the facility include the blockbuster bloodthinner Plavix (clopidogrel), which is being hit by the loss of exclusivity in a number of key territories.

Sanofi notes that "a process of collective consultation with employee representatives is now underway". The firm goes on to say that "we will support our people in every way we can to best manage the impact of this announcement".

The news came as a surprise and Fiona Hall, Member of the European Parliament for North East England, said "this is terrible news for the workers and the local community." However, she added that "I welcome Sanofi's commitment to support those affected through this very tough time and I trust that will involve considerable efforts to find new jobs or training opportunities".

Ms Hall went on to say that "with the plant due to remain operational for the next three years there is an opportunity to manage the closure in a sensible fashion".