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Boeringer Ingelheim Will Exit Virology Research, Close Montreal Site

Pharmaceuticals: Close will cut 170 jobs, adding to regions R&D woes

by Lisa M. Jarvis
September 21, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 39

Adding to the pharmaceutical industry’s exodus from the Montreal region, Boehringer Ingelheim is closing its Laval, Quebec, site as part of its exit from virology research. The move, which will cost the region 170 jobs, follows earlier closures of R&D sites in the area by Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, and AstraZeneca.

Boehringer says the decision to discontinue virology research comes as the field becomes more competitive. “The demands for medical innovation are shifting significantly due to the availability of new medications and also the emphasis on prevention through vaccination, a field in which Boehringer Ingelheim is not active,” says Michel Pairet, the company’s R&D head. The firm spent $36 million to expand the Laval site in 2008.

The move is another blow to Montreal’s R&D community, which has seen a string of pharmaceutical companies end research activities in the region. Merck was the first to shutter a facility, announcing in mid-2010 plans to close the Merck Frosst Center for Therapeutic Research, which employed about 180 scientists.

In January, J&J revealed plans to close its Montreal R&D center, which focused on consumer care products, resulting in roughly 125 job losses. That same month, Sanofi said 100 Montreal-based research jobs would be shed as part of an overall restructuring of its R&D operations.

News for the region got worse the following month, when AstraZeneca unveiled plans to close its Montreal R&D site during sweeping cuts that included abandoning internal neuroscience research. Some 132 jobs were affected. Boehringer says its Laval site will close in the first quarter of 2013.


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