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Local Tech Wire

SANFORD, N.C. – Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), the world’s biggest drugmaker, plans to reconfigure its worldwide plant network by cutting 6,000 jobs globally, including 400 positions at the Sanford facility by the end of 2015, the company announced on Tuesday.

Despite this reduction in staffing, the plant will continue to remain a critical part of Pfizer’s global supply network, with several hundred employees and a clearly-defined role in the production of vaccines.

North Carolina continues to host Pfizer Animal Health’s Poultry Division, with locations in Durham (210 employees) and Laurinburg (25 employees). Those sites joined Pfizer in 2007 when the company acquired Embrex.

Those operations are not affected by this announcement.

Pfizer Global Manufacturing (PGM) has recommended changes to its worldwide plant network aimed at fully integrating the Pfizer and Wyeth manufacturing and supply organizations. Today’s recommendations will result in a global headcount reduction of approximately 6,000 over the next several years.

The timing of site exits will depend upon the complexity of operations, the amount of time required for product transfers, and other business requirements, the company said.

This implementation of the first phase of Pfizer’s previously announced Plant Network Strategy that includes recommendations to cease operations at eight manufacturing sites in Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the United States by the end of 2015, as well as to reduce operations at six other plants in Germany, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Sanford plant, located on 230 acres, began operation in 1987. It currently employs approximately 850 manufacturing and support workers. The plant became part of Pfizer in 2009 following Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth.

The Sanford biotechnology facility houses vaccine manufacturing. The site produces key drug substance components for Prevnar, the newly FDA-approved Prevnar 13, and Meningitec (approved for use outside the United States).

Sanford and Research Triangle Park currently host 200 research and development employees. In November 2009, Pfizer announced it would discontinue those operations by 2011.

“The restructuring of our global plant network is critical to our efforts to remain competitive so that we can continue to meet patient needs and expand the access and affordability of our medicines,” Pfizer Global Manufacturing President Nat Ricciardi said in a prepared statement.

“We are keenly aware of the impact these types of changes have on employees and their families,” Ricciardi added. “We will provide support to our colleagues who lose their jobs so that their transition to new careers is as smooth as possible.”

The announcement is the culmination of an intense half-year evaluation of sites that manufacture aseptic (injectable), solid-dose, and biotechnology medicines, as well as consumer healthcare products.

Pfizer Global Manufacturing presently operates 78 plants internationally with a workforce of approximately 33,000.