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Terre Haute official worried about Pfizer insulin project

March 22, 2007
The president of Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. wants to look deeper into Pfizer Inc.’s troubles with its new inhaled insulin before Vigo County officials complete their offer of $4.5 million in tax-increment finance incentives for the plant that makes the product.

Steve Witt told the County Council it would be “good business” to learn more before making the final sale of the bonds, which would be paid back with taxes by from the New York-based giant, according to The Tribune-Star of Terre Haute.

Pfizer hired nearly 400 full-time workers last year to build inventories in anticipation of launching the powder, called Exubera. The new workers doubled employment at the plant south of Terre Haute.

But two weeks ago the company laid off temporary workers and stopped Sunday production.

Pfizer plans to relaunch Exubera in April after physicians greeted the rollout last fall with skepticism.

Quoting industry sources, the newspaper said lackluster demand has resulted in Pfizer’s accumulating nearly $800 million in Exubera inventories. By the end of the year, the projected $1.5 billion of inventory would supply demand for three years.

Eli Lilly and Co. CEO Sidney Taurel told reporters earlier this month that it is watching Pfizer’s mistakes in introducing Exubera. The Indianapolis drugmaker plans to introduce its Alkermes rival in a smaller, easier-to-handle device.

“So far they haven't done very well,” Taurel said.
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