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Biogen to cut more than 200 jobs

December 14, 2016
Life sciences

Biogen will cut more than 200 employees in Cambridge and Somerville by the end of the year as part of a previously announced plan to stop producing drugs locally, with about half moving to gene therapy manufacturer Brammer Bio, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

The biotech company, which is headquartered at 225 Binney St. in Cambridge, announced in June that it would shutter a nearby 67,000-square-foot manufacturing facility by the end of the year, along with a 46,000-square-foot warehouse in Somerville.

After months of searching for a buyer, Biogen recently transferred the assets to Lexington-based Brammer Bio, which will take over beginning in January, the spokesman said. As a result, 104 employees — 93 at the Cambridge facility and 11 at the Somerville site — will be laid off, while approximately 100 others will go to work for Brammer.

The Biogen spokesman said that employees had been notified of the layoffs in November. The company has been actively working to place employees at other companies, and held a job fair on Thursday with about two dozen biotech firms in attendance.

A representative for Brammer did not respond to a request for comment.

The layoffs were disclosed earlier Tuesday in a filing with the state under the federal WARN Act, which requires employers to give advance notice of layoffs. Biogen also has manufacturing sites in North Carolina and Denmark.

The company previously cut about 11 percent of its workforce in October 2015 as part of a restructuring.

The latest cuts come at an uncertain time for Biogen, which was the third-largest life science employer in Massachusetts as of Oct. 1 with 2,900 employees.

Data announced last week from an early-stage trial of Biogen’s experimental Alzheimer’s treatment, aducanumab, met with mixed reviews from investors. The company’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis treatment, Tecfidera, faces multiple patent challenges that likely will not be resolved until March. And the company still has not named a CEO to replace George Scangos, who announced in July that he planned to step down in a matter of months.

Meanwhile, some analysts believe that Biogen could be ripe for an acquisition. The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Merck & Co. and Allergan were among the potential suitors, although Allergan later said it’s not interested.

Source: Boston Business Journal

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