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Orlando Drug Maker Plans To Lay Off Up To 400 Workers

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Nephron Pharmaceuticals could lay off up to 400 employees in January as they move workers to South Carolina.

An Orlando drug maker plans to lay off as many as 400 workers in January. Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is consolidating services to South Carolina.

Nephron makes generic respiratory drugs, like albuterol. The company has opened a new plant in South Carolina.

Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy said the majority of the company’s workers will be South Carolina.

“We will have a core staff here (in Orlando) and continue to run respiratory products and look for any other special products suited to the facility here,” Kennedy said. “It’s just we’re scaling down in Florida.”

To put it another way, the company will go from being “all in Florida to now some in Florida, and more in South Carolina.”

Back in 2011, Florida offered Nephron a $33 million tax package to build a massive new pharmaceutical manufacturing center in Florida. Nephron picked South Carolina, which offered more than 10 times the incentives Florida offered.

Kennedy said the move is nothing personal, it’s business.

“The fact that we have more automation in South Carolina than Florida helps with the cost of goods,” Kennedy said. “As you know, our products sell from six-and-a-half cents to a dollar, so our margins are razor thin.”

Nephron pays an average salary of $70,000. Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said in a statement it will provide job services to laid off workers.

“Services include an available online job search tool, job training, and other support to help them land a new job,” Gillespie said. “We are committed to creating an environment where Florida’s private sector can grow. There were more than 267,000 job openings in the state in September 2015. This includes more than 36,000 openings in the Orlando area. Our focus is to connect job seekers to these opportunities.”

See below for a longer interview with Kennedy.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

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