Lonza to slash workforce at Hopkinton plant by two-thirds

While many biopharmaceutical companies have been flocking to Massachusetts from around the globe, one European drug maker is planning to scale back its operations here.

Lonza Group Ltd., a Swiss contract research organization that supplies biologic ingredients and other products to the pharmaceutical, health care, and life sciences industries, will slash two thirds of its 300-person workforce in Hopkinton in two stages starting next month.

“It is part of an overall reorganization that Lonza is doing,” said company spokeswoman Melanie Disa. “Operations (in Hopkinton) are continuing for the foreseeable future.”

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The restructuring, unveiled by executives at Lonza’s global headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, last month, was prompted by falling earnings in the face of low-cost competition and higher raw material costs. As part of the move, the company will transfer some manufacturing from Hopkinton to a larger facility in Visp, Switzerland. In the future, ingredients shipped to some customers from Hopkinton will be sent from the Visp plant.

Lonza plans to eliminate about 100 jobs at the Hopkinton plant in September and another 100 by the end of the year. The move won’t affect the company’s larger US pharmaceuticals and biologics headquarters in Portsmouth, NH, a site that employs 780 people.

Under its contract research business model, Lonza provides ingredients, such as animal cell lines, to biotechnology companies on both sides of the Atlantic that are working on research and development of potential new drugs. If regulators approve the treatments, the company also can manufacture the drugs or ingredients used to produce the treatments under contract.

Overall, the company is shedding about 250 jobs worldwide in 2013 through its cost-cutting reorganization. Lonza took a $73.8 million charge against earnings to cover the cost of reducing the Hopkinton workforce and moving some operations to Switzerland.