Abbott Laboratories has laid off 199 workers at its manufacturing facility in Westbrook. Photo courtesy of Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories, one of the country’s largest producers of COVID-19 test kits, on Tuesday said it has laid off 199 workers at its Westbrook manufacturing facility because of dwindling demand for the tests.

The job cut follows one in February, and brings the number of Maine-based Abbott employees who have lost their positions over the past two years to more than 800.

In February, the Chicago-based pharmaceutical company did not provide an exact count of laid-off workers, though a notice sent to the Maine Department of Labor indicated 234 workers were affected.

In July 2021, Abbott laid off roughly 300 workers in Westbrook and 100 at a plant in Scarborough as test-kit demand began to wane.

“Now that COVID has transitioned to a more endemic, seasonal type of respiratory virus, we’re continuing to adjust our workforce to align with market conditions,” Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel said Tuesday. “We continually evaluate our operations and make changes that reflect the strategic needs of our business.”

Stoffel would not say which positions were eliminated, whether the laid-off workers were temporary or full-time employees, or how many employees remain at the Westbrook site.


Abbott Laboratories produces its BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card test kits at the two Maine locations and a factory in Illinois.

The company first ramped up Maine production at the start of the pandemic. Abbott already operated at the Scarborough production facility – the site of a former health care diagnostics business, Binax – and soon began turning out tests there. Later in 2020, Abbott expanded into a renovated sporting goods distribution center in Westbrook. In 2021, the company opened a research-and-development facility in South Portland.

But with fewer consumers now using the self-administered, rapid-response tests, Abbott has scaled back. Financial results released last month showed the company’s worldwide revenue from COVID-19 testing sales plummeted 77.9% from $3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2022 to $730 million in the first quarter of 2023. Abbott reported revenue of $43.7 billion in 2022, and has over 115,000 employees worldwide.

The February cutback may actually have been larger than the 234 temporary jobs reported to the Department of Labor. Representatives from the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and the state’s Peer Workforce Navigator program said roughly 1,000 people – many of whom were immigrants – lost temp positions in that layoff, which ran through March.

Another Maine manufacturer, Guilford-based Puritan Medical Products, also has made job cuts after a COVID-related hiring spree. In March, the company furloughed 251 workers at its Pittsfield facility, where Puritan manufactures nasal swabs for COVID-19 test kits.

In addition, the state Department of Health and Human Services last year moved 45 employees from a Wilton call center to other sites following an end to COVID-19 contact tracing, which was temporarily handled at the call center.

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