Pharmaceutical company Alkermes has said it is to reduce the number of staff at its Athlone facility by between 100 and 130 over the next two years.

The company is making the reduction in staffing as a number of its products reach the end of their commercial life or go off-patent, meaning generic versions can be made by other companies.

Alkermes currently employs 440 people in its corporate headquarters in Dublin and its Athlone manufacturing facility.

It makes a number of medical products, including medicines for the treatment of schizophrenia, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

The company said it would begin a consultation with its workforce immediately.

It said it expected the reduction in staffing to come from a mixture of "natural attrition", as well as voluntary and compulsory redundancy.

Athlone Chamber of Commerce President John McGrath said the job losses will affect the community as well as the workers themselves.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, he said: "Alkermes, formerly Elan, is a cornerstone of industry within Athlone and a highly valued business community member, so we're disappointed and unfortunately for the 130 people who will be losing their jobs, we feel greatly for and obviously the local community will be hit as well."

However, Mr McGrath said that he believed that the company still had a future in Athlone.