Shire closing US plant as it begins to assess post-Baxalta manufacturing footprint

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Shire now has 17 manufacturing sites worldwide, with another being bult in Ireland. Image: iStock/RomoloTavani
Shire now has 17 manufacturing sites worldwide, with another being bult in Ireland. Image: iStock/RomoloTavani
Shire says it is closing a plasma fractionating facility in Los Angeles, US but remains positive it can successfully manage its post-Baxalta manufacturing network of 17 sites.

In June​ this year, Shire completed the $32bn acquisition of Baxalta, and while it has already begun trimming non-core business opportunities - its biosimilars programmes​, a gene therapy candidate​ and a kinase inhibitor deal with CTI Biopharma​ - the inflated manufacturing has remained untouched.

But during a conference call this week discussing Q3 results, CEO Flemming Ornskov revealed Shire has made the decision to cease operations at a plasma fractionating facility at a Los Angeles manufacturing site, the first part of a “network strategy [which] will be laid out next year.”

Spokeswoman Katie Joyce confirmed to this publication manufacturing operations in one building in Los Angeles will end by December, with production transitioned “to newer manufacturing facilities on the same campus and other sites within our manufacturing network.”

She added the closure was “part of a previous commitment made to the city of Los Angeles and ongoing efforts to improve our operations.”

17 sites and growing

According to the pre-acquired Baxalta’s annual report​, the company manufactured products at 13 sites globally, with a new immunoglobin and other plasma-based therapy manufacturing facility in Covington, Georgia set to open in 2018.

Shire, meanwhile, has sites in California, Massachusetts, Austria, and Italy, and began constructing a $400m biologics facility in County Meath, Ireland earlier this year​.

And during the conference call, Ornskov rebuked claims that Shire was unable to manage the firm’s enlarged manufacturing footprint.

“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?”​ he told stakeholder.

“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.”

Peter Welford, an equity analyst at Jefferies International, also thought Shire would cope with the inflated network and further closures are unlikely in the short-term.

“Personally I feel the manufacturing network is probably required for the plasma business, at least until the large Covington site comes online in 2018,”​ he told Biopharma-Reporter.com.

“I suspect that too many further closures beyond the LA facility announced would probably start eroding the sales line.”

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