Japan's Astellas sells U.S. plant to CMO Avara

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Japan’s Astellas has sold its U.S.-based manufacturing operation, Astellas Pharma Technologies, to a U.S. contract manufacturer, which will take on the Astellas workers and continue to produce some drugs for the Japanese company.

Astellas said today that it had sold the plant in Norman, OK, to Norfolk, CT-based Avara Pharmaceutical Services. The two companies kept terms of the deal under wraps, although Astellas said it will take a ¥9.0 billion ($89 million) charge in its quarter ended Sept. 30 for the loss of plant and equipment.

Avara will hire the 200 employees that work at the 312,153-square-foot facility. The company will “continue to manufacture certain Astellas pharmaceutical products on a contract basis,” it said in a release today. 

"We have confidence that Avara is the right company to oversee the continuing supply of the Astellas products that are made at the facility, as well as the fulfillment of capacity use at and capabilities of the facility,” Mitsunori Matsuda, president of Technology at Astellas, said in a statement.

An Astellas spokeswoman said only Astellas products are manufactured at the plant. She declined to say of Astellas has any or U.S. manufacturing facilities, saying that information was "proprietary." 

The sale comes as the Tokyo-based drugmaker has made some other restructuring moves. Last year, it sold its dermatology business to Danish specialty product firm LEO in a $727 million deal, then turned around and invested $379 million for U.S.-based regenerative ophthalmology biotech Ocata Therapeutics.

The company last week reported that its Q1 profits had been improved by the sale to LEO, as well as by growing sales of cancer drug Xtandi. Astellas has been under fire in the U.S. over the price of Xtandi. Some patient advocacy groups even asked the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to override the patents on the drug to bring down its price. They pointed to the fact that the drug runs about $129,000 per treatment course in the U.S., compared with $39,000 in Japan. The NIH denied the request.

- here’s the announcement

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