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Biogen targets Cambridge plant, whacking 285 jobs

June 17, 2016
Life sciences

Biogen will sell or close a manufacturing plant at its headquarters in Cambridge, MA, shedding up to 285 jobs, part of its plan to scrape together more money to market Tecfidera as sales of the its key MS drug have cooled.

The drugmaker said it will try to sublease the 66,000-square-foot facility but told the Boston Globe the plant will be closed by year-end if it can’t find someone to take it on. The facility, its smallest manufacturing site, makes MS and hemophilia treatments. It said that work will shift to sites in North Carolina and Europe.

“We are talking to a number of interested parties,” spokesman Jason Glashow told the newspaper Thursday. He said some employees might get a job with a new manufacturer or could potentially transfer to its Durham, NC site.

The company has about 2,900 employees in Cambridge and Weston, MA, after already having cut 400 jobs in Massachusetts. But the biotech said said local headcount is in for more cuts, the newspaper reported.

The drugmaker last fall announced it would eliminate 11% of its workforce, about 880 jobs, to save $250 million in annual operating expenses. It said plans were to plow the extra money into its “key commercial initiatives.” At the time, CFO Paul Clancy told investors that manufacturing was one target of its resizing.

Biogen’s cost-cutting efforts did bear fruit in Q1, with non-GAAP EPS of $4.79, trouncing consensus estimates of $4.44. Tecfidera brought in sales in line with consensus, notching $946 million for the quarter.

But the drugmaker has been dealing with other disappointments. Last week it reported its multiple sclerosis hopeful opicinumab missed the primary and secondary efficacy endpoints in a Phase II trial. Instead of writing it off, however, Biogen said it was digging into the data, raising the prospect that it will continue look for success.

All of this have steadily eroded Biogen’s share price. Shares were trading midmorning at $241.30, which are down from about $250 a share in January and off a 52-week high of $420.99.

By Eric Palmer

Source: Fierce Pharma

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