By Tom Brown and James Stewart-TaylorRead moreAUSTRALIA’S drug manufacturing sector has been hit by a wave of terminations after major manufacturers including JHP, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca were hit by what they say is a hostile takeover bid by a Chinese company.JHP chief executive Richard Chanelle is the latest major manufacturer to be laid off in the wake of the bid, which the Australian Government said was conducted with the help of an intermediary.
Chanelle, who joined the company in 2012, said he was looking forward to working with the new management team at AstraMed, and was excited to work with them to make sure we deliver a better, more affordable drug supply for the Australian public.
“It was a very difficult decision to make, but I’m looking forward for the new AstraMedic management team to deliver a much more competitive and transparent pharmaceutical supply and pricing for Australian consumers,” Chanelle said.
Chanelle said he had already met with the leadership of AstraPharma to discuss the future direction of the business.
Chanels team has already taken a strong stance in the fight against prescription drug prices, and its recent announcements have seen it garner widespread media coverage.
In October last year, Chanelle told reporters that he would consider a merger with rival AstraLab, but a week later, the company announced that it would merge with AstraAstraZeneca.
The company had previously told the Australian Financial Review that it planned to retain Chanelles expertise in pharmaceutical manufacturing, while also exploring new opportunities in other areas of the industry.
Chanela has been outspoken about the industry’s problems, warning last year that Australians needed to wake up to the importance of controlling their healthcare costs.
In the latest report from the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), a leading industrial union, about a third of its members had been laid off since 2014, when a number of pharmaceuticals giants including Astra-Zeneca, GSK and Abbott Laboratories joined forces to form the Astra group.
The AMWU’s report, which was prepared for the AMA and the Australian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, found that the total number of jobs had declined by 25 per cent over the same period, with the overall workforce down by about 15 per cent.
At the same time, the total amount of union members working in Australia fell by 13 per cent between 2014 and 2019.
Chanelles comments are a rare occurrence, as companies typically have a strong relationship with their unions.
However, AMWUs chairman and CEO Andrew Smith said the report was not a “gutless” analysis of the current situation, and he had received numerous messages from members who were happy with the decision.
“The overall message was that we were in a very tough situation,” Smith said.
“It’s a difficult situation, but it’s also a good situation.
It’s a very challenging environment.”
In an email to AMWUS members, Astra said it was committed to a strong collaboration with the AMWUC and the AMWs union.
“As a growing company, we understand that the current environment for the AMWF is difficult, and we are committed to ensuring that the union continues to provide the AMWC with the support it needs to be successful,” it said.
“In response to the comments made by AMW U’s chairman, it is important to emphasise that our industry is growing and that the future is very bright.”
Chanelles comments follow similar actions taken by Astra, which has been involved in a number other deals to secure a share of Australian medicines supply, including an agreement to supply a range of pharmaceutical products including painkiller OxyContin.
The Astra deal came after Abbott Laboratories said it would take over a pharmaceutical manufacturing operation in China, while Astra agreed to sell its remaining stake in Australia’s biggest drugmaker, Asthma Australia, to an Australian company in the early days of the Astrakhan takeover.
Chaneling, who also founded the Australian Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIPS) in 2005, said the AMWA’s report was disappointing and he hoped the AM WU would continue to fight to improve workplace conditions for its members.
“We have a very long history of working with our employees,” he said.”[We] are not trying to steal their jobs, we are trying to build a better environment for our employees.”