Genzyme extends timeline for plant overhaul

It's going to take Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) longer to fix its troubled plant than the company had thought--a year longer, in fact. The company had projected that the FDA-ordered fixes to its Boston-area plant would take two to three years. Now, the company says in a regulatory filing that the overhaul will take three to four.

The good news is that the timeline change won't affect drug supplies in any significant way, Genzyme SVP Ron Branning tells Bloomberg. "We are on track to do the things we've said we're going to do," Branning explains. "This change in the timing doesn't reflect anything other than a more thoughtful consideration of how we're going to complete the remediation plan."

The question is whether the new timeline might affect Sanofi-Aventis' (NYSE: SNY) interest in buying Genzyme--or, more to the point, if it will affect the price the company might be able to command. Obviously, Sanofi will be intent on making sure the fixes are on track, and that Genzyme's stopgap moves, such as moving some operations to a facility in Waterford, Ireland, are working as billed, analysts say.

Meanwhile, the company divulged more information about the recently discarded batches of drugs that prompted an earnings restatement. The meds in question were Cerezyme, its Gaucher disease treatment; Fabrazyme, for Fabry disease; Thyrogen, a thyroid drug; and Cholestagel, a cholesterol remedy. And, the company says, the quality problems were a one-time thing, unrelated to previous manufacturing issues.

- read the Bloomberg story
- get more from Reuters