Lonza will cut 200 at Massachusetts plant by end of year

Swiss contract manufacturer Lonza last month said it was going to phase out work at its troubled biologics plant in Hopkinton, MA, eventually cutting about 250 jobs. At the time it didn't put a timeframe on the moves, but it now says it is set to begin next month.

According to The Boston Globe, the company says it will cut 100 positions there in September and another 100 by the end of the year. "It is part of an overall reorganization that Lonza is doing," company spokeswoman Melanie Disa told the Globe. "Operations (in Hopkinton) are continuing for the foreseeable future."

The company has struggled to get the plant up to FDA expectations, creating supply issues for clients. That facility has had issues since at least 2011, when it received an FDA warning letter, focused on failed batches of an API manufactured for Ontak, a cancer drug from Japanese drugmaker Eisai. But it is French drugmaker Ipsen ($IPN) that has reported supply issues tied to the plant. In April, it said that interruptions of its orphan drug Increlex appear inevitable because of ongoing issues there, suggesting that Lonza still has not overcome quality concerns at the plant.

In July, the Swiss chemical and contract manufacturing company said it would concentrate its biologics work at its plant in Visp, "where we have successfully operated small and large-scale assets for that technology for many years." The company also closed a plant in Ireland in the first quarter and intends to close up a plant in St. Beauzire, France, in the fourth quarter. The company has taken a CHF 69 million ($73.9 million) charge to cover the costs of the plant reductions but said it expected to save CHF 100 million ($107.1 million) through 2016 from the moves. None of the moves affect Lonza's U.S. pharmaceuticals and biologics headquarters in Portsmouth, NH, where it employs about 780, the newspaper said.

- here's the Boston Globe story