HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday it will phase out its manufacturing operations in Groton by the end of 2008, eliminating about 300 jobs.
Company officials said the move will allow the drug maker to expand its growing research and development operations near the 50-acre manufacturing site.
''We do remain committed to Connecticut,'' Pfizer spokeswoman Liz Power said. ''We're not going anywhere.''
The Groton and New London campuses, Pfizer's largest research sites, employ nearly 6,000 people. The move is part of a restructuring announced last year by the New York-based company. Pfizer has a global work force of 106,000 and said it expects all the changes to save $4 billion by 2008.
The company said it will begin cutting its manufacturing operation next year.
''R&D has grown significantly in Connecticut for more than a decade,'' said Toni Hoover, site director of Pfizer's Groton/New London laboratories. ''The Groton R&D site is at capacity and the manufacturing change announced today provides space for potential expansion.''
The possible research and development expansion is welcome news to local officials. The city of Groton is also home to submarine-maker Electric Boat, which recently announced plans to lay off 2,400 workers.
''When you put everything together, we're taking a big hit for employees,'' Groton City Mayor Dennis Popp said. ''But I expect in the next year and half, when it's all done, everybody will be just fine. It's not the first time we've been through this.''
The mayor called Pfizer ''a good corporate citizen.'' He said the company notified him at 9 a.m. Tuesday of plans to phase out the manufacturing operation.
''They've been wonderful,'' Popp said. ''Just as recently at last night's council meeting, they donated six portable radios to our fire department.''
The Groton complex makes active ingredients for a a number of pharmaceuticals and animal-health products and the company expects to transfer those products to other plants.
Power said Pfizer's 2000 merger with Warner-Lambert and acquisition of Pharmacia three years later has added more than 90 manufacturing plants.
''It's an enormous amount of capacity worldwide,'' Power said.
Power said changes in the way medicines are used and produced also factored into the decision. Some drugs are now taken just once instead of over multiple days.
Pfizer officials said workers affected by the closure will be offered severance, early retirement, job placement assistance and other benefits. They can also apply for other openings in Groton and New London and at other Pfizer locations.
''Certainly that's the hope. These are people with a lot of experience in the industry and at Pfizer,'' Power said. ''Management and leadership is working really hard to make sure these people make a good transition.''