Sector News

Shire unloads plant to Merck as it goes on a manufacturing diet

August 9, 2017
Life sciences

Shire has found a buyer for a former Baxter vaccine plant in Europe as it continues its manufacturing consolidation after completing two big buyouts last year.

Merck & Co. said today that it is buying the plant in Krems an der Donau, Austria, and will immediately begin renovating the 340,000-square-foot facility, which it will use for animal vaccine production. Merck, whose animal health business was up 6% to $950 million in the second quarter, expects to be able to start production in 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Merck spokeswoman Pamela Eisele said the company estimates the site will eventually employ several hundred people and that it will begin posting available jobs immediately.

Shire got the facility in its $32 billion buyout of Baxalta, which it bought last year after Baxter spun off the drug business. The plant was closed at the end of October as part of Shire’s postmerger plan to cut about $700 million out of the combined operations over three years.

“At that time, many employees were offered roles elsewhere within Shire,” spokeswoman Katie Joyce said today in an email. “Almost half of the employees accepted while others left the organization. Shire is pleased that the site will be brought back online by MSD and that additional employment opportunities will be created in the region.”

According to a sales notice posted (PDF) by PharmaBiosource, which handled the property, the plant was built in 2000, primarily for vaccine production, and was used as storage for another vaccine plant in Austria. Baxter sold its vaccine business to Pfizer in 2014 for $635 million.

Shire undertook a manufacturing network review of the 17 manufacturing sites it ended up with after completing the Baxalta deal, as well as the $5.9 buyout of Massachusetts-based rare-disease competitor Dyax Corp.

CEO Flemming Ornskov discussed those plans during an earnings call last year, announcing that the company would close a plasma fractionating plant in Los Angeles, California, as part of the effort.

“I heard that people were very worried when we did the deal about, wow, ‘Can Shire really manage such a complex manufacturing organization with 17 manufacturing sites in seven countries?’” Flemming told analysts then.

“Well, not only can we do that, we’re on track to starting a new manufacturing site in Ireland which we’re very excited about. … We’re in the process of closing the first building in Los Angeles. … So I think on manufacturing synergies, I feel really good.”

Last month, Shire said it would consolidate U.S. biomanufacturing into its Lexington, Massachusetts, site.

By Eric Palmer

Source: Fierce Pharma

Related News

September 18, 2020

Eli Lilly, Amgen join forces to scale production of COVID-19 antibody cocktails

Life sciences

Months of fervid research have whittled away most potential options to treat patients with COVID-19, a group of antibody cocktails still hold promise. Eli Lilly believes so strongly in its contender that it’s […]

September 16, 2020

Takeda unveils new Boston R&D manufacturing center for cell therapy pipeline push

Life sciences

Japanese drugmaker Takeda has trumpeted its plan in recent years to cut billions of dollars in costs and pivot around oncology and rare diseases. A key part of that strategy […]

September 15, 2020

AstraZeneca, Oxford restart stalled COVID-19 test as Pfizer ramps up trial numbers for its vaccine

Life sciences

Just under a week after it stopped its key phase 3 pandemic vaccine test, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have been given the green light to restart in the […]