Genzyme chief promises 500 new Mass. jobs

Genzyme has been something of a Bad News Bear recently, as manufacturing troubles continue to plague its Boston-area plant, and some key investors have been agitating for changes at the company--even calling for the resignation of CEO Henri Termeer. So it's natural for the company to cast about for some good news to break. And to have Termeer be the one to break it.

What's interesting is that this good news is mighty good, at least in this so-called jobless recovery our economy is dealing with. Termeer says that he intends to staff up by some 500 jobs in the Boston area. And this at a time when many drugmakers aren't hiring, but laying off workers--at least in the U.S.

The new jobs will come mostly at Genzyme's HQ in Cambridge, the Boston Globe reports, as well as at manufacturing sites in nearby Framingham and Allston. And those 500 new workers will come onto Genzyme's payroll this year, on top of another 330 hired in Massachusetts in 2009. Globally, Genzyme added 1,000 workers in 2009, and Termeer predicts that his work force could double in size over the next five years, provided new drugs come online as expected.

Therein lies the rub. Lately, Genzyme has dealt with plenty of the unexpected, from viral contamination at one plant to foreign particles in certain batches of its drugs. As its manufacturing woes caused shortages of its rare-disease treatments, potential competitors were certified to fill the temporary gap, and now those competitors are chomping at the bit for their chance for permanent market share. But Termeer promises that Genzyme's fortunes have changed. "We are at the beginning of the turnaround, and it looks pretty encouraging," Termeer tells the Globe.

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