The UK’s SkyePharma has managed to salvage some jobs threatened by cost-cutting at its R&D facility in Muttenz, Switzerland by consolidating its relationship with Aenova, the German group whose French subsidiary leased SkyePharma’s manufacturing business at Saint Quentin-Fallavier, Lyon in August 2011.

Last month, SkyePharma announced it would be laying off around 20% of its 101-strong workforce in Muttenz, with the aim of enhancing competitiveness and generating annual operating-cost savings of CHF2.6 million (£1.8 million).

At the same time, though, SkyePharma said it had agreed with Aenova to sub-let part of its laboratory space in Muttenz and sell some of its surplus laboratory equipment to Aenova.

"Aenova plans to use the space to expand its own non-competing oral product development activities and has agreed to consider offering positions to some of the SkyePharma employees potentially affected by the headcount reduction,” the UK company stated last month.

It also noted at the time that it intended to make more use of third-party sub-contracting in the future for “certain aspects” of its oral product development process and that Aenova had “agreed to be a sub-contractor for this purpose”. 

Staff transfer

The outcome is that Aenova is now employing 15 “skilled staff” at its new development centre in Muttenz, including 11 technicians recruited by agreement from SkyePharma’s oral formulation and oral analytical development team, SkyePharma said.

As well as expanding its own oral product development activities at the Muttenz facility, Aenova will be carrying out oral product formulation and analytical services for SkyePharma on a sub-contracted basis, the latter confirmed.

SkyePharma will continue to offer oral drug delivery solutions to its customers through its business development team, the company emphasised, adding that the alliance with Aenova “improves SkyePharma’s flexibility and competitiveness as an oral drug delivery provider”.

Last August’s agreement to lease SkyePharma’s entire pharmaceutical manufacturing business and premises in Lyon was for an initial two-year period, extendable for a further three years.  

The new deal in Switzerland “has reinforced the links between the companies and could lead to collaborative development opportunities”, the UK company said.

Increased utilisation

The original alliance “provided an important opportunity to increase the utilisation of our Lyon facility, generate rental income and enable SkyePharma to focus on its core business of developing drug delivery solutions for the global pharmaceutical industry”, commented chief executive officer Peter Grant.