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AstraZeneca Closing Mass. Plant

AstraZeneca announced it will close a plant in Westborough, Massachusetts (U.S). in 2015, putting 180 employees out of work, and move the production from Massachusetts to plants in Sweden and Australia.

The facility will lose some jobs in March and the rest throughout the year with the plant closing by year end, the Worcester Telegram reports.

“We did not take this decision lightly, and it was made after careful consideration of our business strategy, market indicators and the patients and stakeholders we serve globally,” spokeswoman Alisha Martin told the newspaper.

Part of the reason for the closure is that AstraZeneca has been fighting a losing legal battle to protect the patent on its asthma drug Pulmicort Respules, The company had patents on the drug that it believed were solid until 2018, but last year lost a challenge. It appealed and managed to get an injunction against generics makers, but that has not stopped a slide in revenues from the product in the U.S. Sales were down 6% to $155 million in the first nine months of this year, even as they have grown in the rest of the world. Sales outside the U.S. were up 15% to $522 million in the first three quarters, with half of that coming from China, the drugmaker reported in its Q3 report.

AstraZeneca has been whittling down the Westborough plant for a decade. In 2004, it had 850 employees and ran 24 hours a day, the Telegram reports. The U.K. drugmaker did say last month it would add about 300 jobs in Frederick, MD, in a few years after it completes a $200 million plant to expand its biologics capabilities. That project, which starts this month, is slated to be complete in mid-2017.