Work­ers at Pfiz­er Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing site the lat­est to walk out in la­bor dis­pute protests

Phar­ma com­pa­nies have been no stranger to la­bor dis­putes re­cent­ly and the lat­est one is hit­ting a Pfiz­er man­u­fac­tur­ing site in the land down un­der.

Ac­cord­ing to the Unit­ed Work­ers Union (UWU), em­ploy­ees at Pfiz­er’s phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in the Perth sub­urb of Bent­ley have walked off for 24 hours in protest of what the union sees as a sub­stan­dard pay of­fer for work­ers.

Union mem­bers said Pfiz­er re­fused to con­sid­er a wage in­crease in line with the cost of liv­ing. Pfiz­er has re­port­ed­ly of­fered a 12% in­crease in wages over three years, while union mem­bers are pur­su­ing 18%.

UWU’s ac­tion comes as the plant in Bent­ley is about to shut­ter its doors.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Com­pa­ny in 2020, the Bent­ley man­u­fac­tur­ing site, which makes on­col­o­gy med­i­cines as well as in­jecta­bles for hos­pi­tals in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, an­nounced it would stop its op­er­a­tions in 2023, with the doors ful­ly clos­ing in 2024. Em­ploy­ees would be laid off over three years and em­ploy­ees in Perth will have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to ap­ply for any in­ter­nal va­can­cies as well as some roles that tran­si­tion through re­de­ploy­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Pfiz­er, in a state­ment emailed to End­points News, the com­pa­ny eval­u­at­ed its glob­al man­u­fac­tur­ing net­work to en­sure that its pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ty is ef­fec­tive­ly uti­lized and as a re­sult, it de­cid­ed to cease man­u­fac­tur­ing at the Perth site.

The union said that the clo­sure would leave more than 100 ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers in “lim­bo” as no buy­er has been se­cured. De­spite Pfiz­er leav­ing Bent­ley, the UWU al­so re­port­ed that Pfiz­er was re­fus­ing to guar­an­tee re­dun­dan­cies paid on av­er­age hours worked.

The union stat­ed that they may take in­def­i­nite ac­tion if Pfiz­er re­turns with what they see as an un­fair of­fer.

“Pfiz­er is cur­rent­ly in ne­go­ti­a­tion with the union for a new EBA for the com­pa­ny’s Perth man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ees. Pfiz­er is work­ing close­ly with the union to agree on a new EBA that works for all em­ploy­ees at the Perth site, which of­fers fair and rea­son­able terms for wages and al­lowances, and ad­dress­es the in­creased cost of liv­ing,” Pfiz­er told End­points.

Pfiz­er al­so de­tailed how over the last 10 years, it has de­liv­ered above-in­fla­tion pay in­creas­es of more than 40% in the agree­ment, com­pared with CPI of 26%.

“We have re­peat­ed­ly as­sured Perth col­leagues that our un­capped re­dun­dan­cy pro­vi­sions re­main in­tact through the EBA agree­ment. Pfiz­er’s re­dun­dan­cy pro­vi­sions are sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than those pro­vid­ed un­der the Na­tion­al Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards (NES),” the state­ment said.

How­ev­er, Pfiz­er is not the on­ly phar­ma to be feel­ing the heat from la­bor as sev­er­al ma­jor com­pa­nies have been fac­ing the heat from work­ers.

GSK’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sites in the UK were look­ing at a strike in April af­ter the phar­ma of­fered what work­ers de­scribed as a “de­riso­ry” pay raise and vot­ed in fa­vor of strik­ing, how­ev­er, both sides man­aged to agree on a 4.5% raise.

In South Ko­rea, things have been hot­ter on the la­bor front. Sanofi in June faced a strike by work­ers over a 1.5% in­crease in pay, but work­ers ini­tial­ly de­mand­ed a 7% pay hike and then low­ered the de­mand to 4%.

And in Ju­ly, union­ized No­vo Nordisk work­ers gath­ered at the com­pa­ny’s head­quar­ters in Seoul to protest a failed end to wage ne­go­ti­a­tions and cuts to some em­ploy­ee in­cen­tives.

The Fac­tors Dri­ving a Rapid Evo­lu­tion of Gene & Cell Ther­a­py and CAR-T Clin­i­cal Re­search in APAC

APAC is the fastest growing region globally for cell & gene therapy trials representing more than a third of all cell & gene studies globally, with China leading in the region. 

APAC is the leading location globally for CAR-T trials with China attracting ~60% of all CAR-T trials globally between 2015-2022. The number of CAR-T trials initiated by Western companies has rapidly increased in recent years (current CAGR of about 60%), with multiple targets being explored including CD19, CD20, CD22, BCMA, CD30, CD123, CD33, CD38, and CD138.

EMA warns of short­ages of two Boehringer heart drugs due to a spike in de­mand

The EMA is putting EU member states on alert over the shortage of two drugs that counter heart attacks due to an uptick in demand.

On Friday, the EMA sent out a warning that two Boehringer Ingelheim drugs are experiencing a shortage: Actilyse and Metalyse. The drugs are used as emergency treatments for adults experiencing acute myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, by dissolving blood clots that have formed in the blood vessels.

The End­points 11; blue­bird's $3M gene ther­a­py; Bio­gen tout new neu­ro da­ta; Harsh re­views for can­cer drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Reading about John Carroll’s pick of biotech’s most promising startups has become a treasured tradition. If you ever get curious about previous classes of the Endpoints 11, you can find all of them (plus a number of our other regular specials) here.

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The End­points 11: The top pri­vate biotechs in pur­suit of new drugs. Push­ing the en­ve­lope with pow­er­ful new tech­nolo­gies

Right around the beginning of the year, we got a close-up look at what happens after a boom ripples through biotech. The crash of life sciences stocks in Q1 was heard around the world.

In the months since, we’ve seen the natural Darwinian down cycle take effect. Reverse mergers made a comeback, with more burned out shells to go public at a time IPOs and road shows are out of favor. And no doubt some of the more recent arrivals on the investing side of the business are finding greener pastures.

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Wendy Lund, WPP chief client officer for health and wellness

WPP taps Organon chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Wendy Lund for new health and well­ness client role

Wendy Lund is going home – to WPP, that is. Lund is leaving the Merck women’s health spinoff Organon where she is chief communications officer for a newly created role as WPP chief client officer for health and wellness. Before Organon, Lund led GCI Group, a WPP healthcare communications agency, as CEO for 11 years.

Lund joins WPP’s group of global client leaders who act as a single point of contact or entry for clients with WPP brands and businesses inside the holding company. and in this case, for the WPP health and wellness business.

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Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar

Should SCO­TUS hear Am­gen's Repatha case? So­lic­i­tor gen­er­al says no

Back in April, Amgen said it was encouraged by the solicitor general’s anticipated review of its Supreme Court petition to rehear a Repatha patent case. They’re likely much less optimistic about the outcome now.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a recent 27-page brief that Amgen’s arguments “lack merit and further review is not warranted.”

The case traces back to a suit filed in 2014 against Sanofi and Regeneron’s Praluent, which ended up beating Amgen’s PCSK9 blockbuster Repatha to market by a month just a year later.

Klick Health gath­ers biotech and phar­ma lu­mi­nar­ies to dis­cuss in­dus­try in­no­va­tions, in­vest­ments and fu­ture

At Klick Health’s first Ideas Exchange conference with biotech and pharma industry insiders since before the pandemic began, it was no surprise many conversations included Covid topics. Yet while vaccines and treatments were discussed, so too were the effects on drug development, federal responses, health inequities — and what to do now and next.

George Yancopoulos, chief scientist and cofounder of Regeneron, opened the conference responding to a question from Acorda CEO Ron Cohen about the spotlight on the industry during Covid and some of the “flak” biopharma has taken in the past.

FDA's out­side ex­perts vote in fa­vor of Fer­ring's fe­cal trans­plant for C. dif­fi­cile, set­ting the stage for Seres

FDA’s outside advisors voted in favor of Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ RBX2660, an experimental poop-based drug implant that the company says would be the first microbiota-based live biotherapeutic to receive an FDA green light.

That was a point repeatedly discussed during the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, meeting Thursday when evaluating Ferring’s fecal microbiota transplant, or FMT, for reducing the recurrence of Clostridioides difficile infection in adults who have received antibiotics. Multiple members brought up the need for a regulated product amid a landscape of unregulated FMTs already happening in clinical care.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis un­veils 'US-first' strat­e­gy ahead of San­doz spin­off

Weeks after announcing the spinoff of generics arm Sandoz, Vas Narasimhan paints a picture of the new, slimmer Novartis — with a “US-first mindset,” he said at an investor event on Thursday.

The CEO unveiled ambitious plans to become a top-five player in the US by 2027 at Novartis’ “Meet the Management” event in Basel, Switzerland, which means ramping up clinical trials in the states and “building capability and talent, among other things.” The company’s also shooting for a top-three ranking in China.

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