Bard, Abbott Close Plants in the US

medical industry

Qmed.com reported that the new year has brought layoffs as CR Bard and Abbott are each closing a medical device plant.

CR Bard will close its plant in Stewartville, Minnesota in 2016, shedding 185 jobs, according to a report in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. That’s just three years after New Jersey-based CR Bard bought its Minnesota competitor, Rochester Medical Corp., for $262 million.

The company moved 67 jobs from the Stewartville plant to Mexico last year, according to the Post-Bulletin report. Full closure of the plant, which manufactures catheters, will likely occur in stages, the newspaper said.

Bard reached the decision to close the plant “after a thorough review and careful consideration,” wrote company spokesman Scott Lowry in an email. “We understand that our employees are directly impacted by this decision.  We are committed to treating them fairly and will respect, and we will support them during this transition.”

Abbott closes plant in California

Meanwhile, a California layoff report reveals that Abbott Vascular in late 2015 cut 144 jobs from its Redwood City plant, which is closing. In July, the company sacked 406 workers in Temecula and another 81 in Santa Clara, CA. The Temecula plant, which once employed 4000, saw an additional 100 cuts in November 2014.

Abbott notified employees at the Redwood City plant in 2014 of its impending closure, according to company spokesman Steve Kelly. The plant will close in the first quarter of 2016 to improve the company’s “competitiveness and better support its business in an ever-changing environment,” Kelly wrote in an email statement. “The facility produces vascular devices which will be produced in other facilities in our global manufacturing network.”

Last year was a tough one for California medtech workers, as well. Medical device companies—including some big names—laid off nearly 1200 workers in California beginning in July, according to that state’s Employment Development Department. Companies involved included:

  • Alphatec Spine cut 99 workers from Carlsbad facility in early July.Boston Scientific slashed 284 positions in Fremont and another 171 in San Jose, both in late July.
  • Abbott eliminated 81 jobs at its Abbott Vascular operation in Santa Clara and another 163 at an Abbott Vascular plant in Temecula,  also in late July.
  • Becton Dickinson & Co. chopped 71 positions at new subsidiary CareFusion‘s San Diego base on September 30.
  • Zimmer Biomet plans to cut 269 workers from its Zimmer Biomet Dental division in Carlsbad and 10 others from its Zimmer Biomet unit there on October 30.
  • Medtronic plans to eliminate 21 jobs at its Medtronic Distribution operation in Mira Loma, effective January 6, 2016.

Less medtech jobs in the US, but growth overseas

The medtech industry may be losing jobs in the United States, but jobs are growing in other countries, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Major medical device companies have also shown interest in emerging markets, such as China and India. Some in the industry blame the now-suspended 2.3% medical device excise tax, part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, for exacerbating the trend, although pricing pressures across the healthcare system is another factor.

“In 2013 and prior years, Abbott management approved plans to realign its vascular manufacturing operations and core diagnostics business in order to reduce costs,” Abbott wrote in a recent SEC filing.

report on Abbott’s financial health published by Trefis said the company could reverse slumping sales in the vascular market if it wins regulatory approval in the U.S. and “other key markets” in 2016 for its fully dissolving heart stent, Absorb. The vascular business constitutes 15% of the company’s value, as per Trefis estimates.

Abbott won the CE Mark for a package incorporating both Absorb BVS and the company’s state-of-the-art catheter delivery system, the GlideTrack, in 2015.  The drug-eluting Absorb BVS is also available in select Latin American and Asian countries.

The market for such bioabsorbable stents is expected to expand rapidly from $143.7 million in 2014 to $2.1 billion in 2021—representing a compound annual growth rate of 42.1% worldwide, according to London-based GlobalData. Reasons include new product approvals and what GlobalData describes as a paradigm shift toward minimally invasive procedures to treat vascular diseases.

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