Athenex to shutter New York production facility, lay off 92 workers

Athenex will shutter its production facility in Clarence, New York, and dismiss 92 employees as the Buffalo-based biotech continues to struggle following the 2021 FDA decision not to approve its oral chemotherapy drug without new clinical trials.

The closure and layoffs were disclosed in a Dec. 23 notice posted as a WARN letter (PDF) on the New York Department of Labor’s website. The company cited "economic" reasons for the closure.

That bad news was compounded by the company’s Tuesday announcement that the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency rejected Athenex’s oral paclitaxel developed to treat metastatic breast cancer. The regulatory agency cited chemistry, manufacturing and control issues as the basis for its decision.

Athenex stock, which was $21 a share on the Nasdaq exchange in July of 2019, was trading for just over 15 cents on Dec. 29. The company must post 10 consecutive days of closing above $1 per share by March 14 or face being delisted.

Last March, Athenex announced it would let go of an unspecified number of its employees—it had 652 full-time employees at the end of 2021—and pivot its business to focus on cell therapies.

Those layoffs came after the February sale by Athenex of its Dunkirk, New York, manufacturing facility to ImmunityBio for $40 million to help pay down debt and beef up cash reserves. In July, the company unloaded its equity interests in its Chinese subsidiaries that produce APIs as part of a $19 million deal with TiHe Capital of Beijing.

The company also sold its interests in the U.S. and Europe for its Klisyri precancerous lesions treatment, raising $85 million in that deal.