Shire focusing on biotechnology and R&D hubs in MA operations shake up

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/svanhorn
Image: iStock/svanhorn

Related tags Process development

Shire will consolidate both R&D and biomanufacturing facilities in Massachusetts to establish a rare diseases hub in Cambridge and a ‘Technology Center of Excellence’ in Lexington.

In 2016, Shire substantially increased its operational footprint through the acquisitions of Baxalta​ and Dyax Corporation​, at a cost of $32bn (€28bn) and $5.9bn respectively, ending the year with a network of manufacturing 17 sites.

The firm has begun reorganising this – an ex-Baxalta plasma fractionating plant in LA has been earmarked for closure​, for example – and now a spokesperson has confirmed Shire’s six sites in Massachusetts will be consolidated into two.

“As we assess our operations after the Baxalta acquisition, we have decided to establish ‘hubs’ of focus and expertise in R&D and Manufacturing,”​ Katie Joyce told this publication.

In Cambridge the firm is establishling a ‘Rare Disease Innovation Hub’ focused on R&D, and by moving some of these functions away from its Lexington headquarters and manufacturing site, Shire will free up space to build a Technology Center of Excellence.

“We will align and build teams working on device development, biologics process development and manufacturing, launch activities and IT. Roles at our Alewife manufacturing facility in MA will eventually be redeployed to Lexington and we will exit that site,”​ she said.

“Since the acquisition of Baxalta, movement both ways between Lexington and Cambridge has been ongoing and will continue as we work to co-locate ‘like’ teams and support functions for better collaboration and ultimately expand into a second facility in Cambridge.”

3,000 employees

Plans are still being finalised and Joyce was unable to comment on how the reorganisation would affect the estimated 3,000 employees who work for Shire in Massachusetts.

“We are in early stages of determining which exact employees and functions will be located in Cambridge and Lexington, MA in the future, in addition to new hires. It will take time to finalize plans,” ​she said.

Our focus throughout the establishment of all of these hubs will be to minimize impacts to colleagues, innovate, and operate efficiently to ensure supply continuity for patients. The transitions will occur over multiple stages, over the next few years.”

Austrian activities

Shire is also establishing a Centre of Excellence for aseptic fill/finish in Austria.

We have decided to transfer process development, manufacturing and quality operations out of Orth to other Shire facilities—this includes a subset of process development and quality operations that will move to Vienna,”​ Joyce said, adding gene therapy activities will continue at the Orth site.

However, a former Baxalta facility in Krems, Austria once earmarked for a €138m expansion and modernization closed its doors last December and has been put up for sale​.

And according to facility transaction services company PharmaBioSource​, the 340,000 square foot facility is under agreement, though details of the proposed buyer are yet to have been made public.

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