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Contract Pharmaceuticals closes W. Side plant; 260 lose jobs as company moves work to Ontario

One of the last surviving manufacturers on Buffalo's West Side stopped production this week, leaving a sprawling factory complex empty and 260 people without jobs.

Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited ceased production at it Forest Avenue plant earlier this week. A handful of employees will stay behind to tie up loose ends before turning out the lights for good.

CPL made and packaged prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, including liquids, creams and ointments, but was running at just 25 percent of its capacity in 2010, when executives decided to close the plant and move its work to another facility in Mississauga, Ont.

The move saves CPL more than $1 million a year in overhead expenses alone, such as heat, electricity, air conditioning and other maintenance costs. The sprawling facility is more than 100 years old, is comprised of eight different buildings and spans 415,000 square feet.

The company had been struggling for years. Formerly Bristol Myers Squibb, there were closing rumors throughout the 1990s and 2000s. CPL purchased it in 2005, added 60 jobs and pumped in $4.5 million. It had planned to ramp up orders and increase production.

But when the recession hit, many of the companies that had contracted with CPL to make their products began making the products themselves to save money. In another blow, the credit crunch made it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to finance new drug development. Business was slow at the Ontario plant, too, which left plenty of room for consolidation.

"We never got to the production levels we needed for long-term economic success," Ken Paige, CPL's chief executive officer, said in a statement when the announcement was made in 2010.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com