Roche looks to sell California manufacturing site or shutter it by 2029: report

Swiss pharma giant Roche is looking to put its biologics manufacturing facility in Vacaville, California, on the auction block or shutter it by 2029, Reuters reports.

In a statement to Reuters, the company didn’t directly respond to the prospect of selling or closing the facility but said it no longer needs large volumes of the products being manufactured at the site. 

However, internal emails sent to employees and obtained by the news agency indicated that if a buyer weren’t identified, Roche would begin winding down operations at Vacaville and shutter the plant between 2028 and 2029, Reuters reports.

The plant, which employs about 800 people, produces monoclonal antibodies, according to the news service.

Roche is currently staving off challenges to its revenue flow thanks to biosimilar challengers to its big-selling cancer drugs Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan. This has forced the company to rely on newer products to deliver growth.

Roche snapped up the Vacaville site as part of its 2009 buyout of Genentech. It was closed for several years before the Swiss drugmaker reopened the Vacaville plant in 2013 and hired several hundred workers.

By 2017, the company’s competitive outlook changed again as biosimilars were starting to eat at the market share of some of its top-selling medicines. That year, the company eliminated 130 jobs from the Vacaville site.

Roche has been busy tweaking its manufacturing base in California lately. In February, the company unveiled plans for a $450 million, next-generation biologics plant in the state. The company plans to hire 150 at that site, which will be in Oceanside.

In addition, the company is decommissioning an aging Genentech site in South San Francisco and laying off 265 staffers.