PTx will hire 40 for U.S. Leukine plant it acquired from Sanofi

The nascent pharma player Partner Therapeutics picked up a U.S. manufacturing plant when it made its business debut this year with a deal to buy a drug facility from Sanofi. Now, it says it is adding jobs there as it ramps up manufacturing.

The Boston-based operation in January announced it had raised $60 million and bought transplant drug Leukine (sargramostim) from Sanofi as well as the Seattle, Wash., area plant where it is produced. The drug is used to help acute myeloid leukemia patients fight infections after bone marrow transplants.

Now, Partner Therapeutics (PTx) is ready to expand, CFO Bill McClements said Monday in an email.

“We are planning to grow the team as we ramp up manufacturing,” McClements wrote. “We will be hiring approximately 40 people in functions including QA, QC, manufacturing operations, facilities, IT and fill-finish oversight. “

"Production was stopped by the previous owner and we are in the process of restarting it. We presently have about 100 employees at Lynnwood and that will grow to roughly 140 by year end. We have ample inventory to ensure continuity of supply for the market. We are in the process of hiring a commercial team and will begin re-launch in Q2," McClements said.   

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In addition, he said the company is developing a longer term facility investment plan. When PTx bought the facility, it said the plant will not only make Leukine but will serve as the core manufacturing and supply chain center for PTx's work in other areas.

Sanofi’s Genzyme had acquired Leukine from Bayer Healthcare in 2009 as part of a three-drug deal, just ahead of Genzyme’s buyout by the French drugmaker. Genzyme had paid about $100 million for the Lynnwood, Wash., biologics facility, which was dedicated to making Leukine.

The firm said it plans to trial Leukine in other conditions such as melanoma and radiation poisoning, an area for which Sanofi had been testing the drug with support from a $37.6 million BARDA contract awarded in 2016.

PTx was created by Robert Mulroy, co-founder and former CEO of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals—which was recently acquired by Ipsen in a $1.25 billion deal—and Dr. Debasish Roychowdhury, the former chief medical officer of Seragon—a company Roche bought out in 2014 for $725 million.

Mulroy is now CEO of PTx, while Roychowdhury is chief medical officer. Roychowdhury also did stints at GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly, in addition to serving as global head of oncology at Sanofi.