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Pfizer Inc.'s 20-person surveillance testing group in Groton, part of the company's Scientific Laboratory Services team that tests products manufactured by contractors, will be moving to Singapore sometime next year.
Pfizer confirmed the planned move in an email, saying it was a cost-cutting measure. The company said three people in its surveillance testing group will be retained in Groton to oversee the program, and others may remain with Pfizer in other areas.
Twenty-four people will be employed at the Singapore site, so the move is not part of a company downsizing, a spokesman said.
"The existing surveillance laboratories in Groton will continue operations through late 2012 at which point a transition to testing at the Singapore lab will be initiated," Pfizer spokesman Steven L. Danehy said. "This change helps us to better align our quality operations with business demand and generally strengthens the company's position as a global supplier."
Danehy said the surveillance testing group operates out of Building 257 at the Groton campus. The group uses about 4,000 square feet, or 25 percent, of the building, he added.
"Contractor surveillance testing is performed to ensure that products purchased by Pfizer or sold on our behalf meet Pfizer's quality standards," Danehy said. "The expectations for high quality apply to both Pfizer's manufacturing sites and our suppliers' sites."
Danehy said the decision to move Pfizer's testing facilities to Singapore was made based partly on the company's growing reliance on overseas contractors to manufacture its products. Other factors included a desire to reduce operating costs.
"By providing surveillance testing services in Singapore, Pfizer can more closely support this important growth market and suppliers in Asia, and align with the location of Pfizer Global Supply's external supply organization in Asia," he said.
Pfizer said the relocation of its surveillance testing group, which currently is not replicated at any of its other worldwide sites, will not result in Building 257 being vacated.
The Scientific Laboratory Services group of which the surveillance testers are a part includes 70 people based in Groton and about 130 others around the world, including at sites in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Parsippany, N.J.; Collegeville, Penn., and Sandwich, England.
Pfizer for decades had manufacturing facilities in Groton, but closed that portion of its operations in 2007. Its local operations have been on the decline for years, including the sale in 2010 to Electric Boat of its former Pfizer Global Research & Development headquarters in New London and the move of drug-discovery operations to the Boston area over the past year.
As scientists moved out of Groton, Pfizer has been advertising several of its buildings off Eastern Point Road for sale or lease. Some Pfizer employees in the neuroscience unit have already moved from Groton to Cambridge, Mass., but the entire group will not be assembled there until Aug. 1, the company said. Pfizer said its Groton site currently houses about 3,700 company employees, just shy of its goal announced last year of reducing its local workforce to 3,500.