Goodbye, Chicago: Takeda sets December deadline for U.S. employees' Boston move

Takeda US facility
Takeda will vacate its Deerfield, Illinois headquarters by Dec. 31. (Takeda)

In the wake of its $64 billion buyout of Shire early last year, Takeda Pharmaceuticals outlined an ambitious consolidation of its operations in the Boston area. For the drugmaker’s 1,000 employees in the Chicago suburbs, that planned move now has a deadline.

Takeda will empty its 77,000-square-foot Deerfield, Illinois headquarter facility by Dec. 31 as part of the relocation of its U.S. operations that the Tokyo drugmaker planned after it closed its purchase of Shire in January. Following the move of the 1,000 employees on site, the company is expected to put the Deerfield facility up for sale by March of next year.

As part of the move, Takeda will temporarily reassign some of its Deerfield employees to work remotely while others will be assigned to a “transitional work location” in nearby Bannockburn, Illinois, according to Takeda spokesperson Julia Ellwanger. The company said it expects to lay off some of its Deerfield workers, but it didn't disclose job cut numbers.

“In cases where there isn’t a solution that meets the business and/or an employee’s needs, the employee will be provided with severance and transition support programs,” Ellwanger said. “Because these discussions are ongoing, we are not providing numbers.”

RELATED: Takeda to move U.S. headquarters to Boston, affecting 1,000 employees

Takeda originally announced its relocation plans in September as it was working to close its massive buyout of Irish drugmaker Shire, which employed around 3,000 workers in the Boston area. Shire underwent an operations consolidation of its own in 2017, focusing its rare-disease research and U.S. commercial operations in Cambridge, and biologic and other manufacturing operations in Lexington. 

In its first year with Shire on board, Takeda is expecting roughly flat growth for its pharma portfolio with generic competition and patent losses projected to take a big chunk out of the drugmaker’s profits.

RELATED: New Velcade rival, looming Uloric patent loss will cost post-Shire Takeda growth: CEO

In the fiscal year ended in March, multiple myeloma blockbuster Velcade posted a 6.9% sales drop to 127.9 billion Japanese yen ($1.17 billion) following its loss of patent protection in 2018. Sales of Velcade, the predecessor to up-and-comer Ninlaro, were slated to drop by a precipitous 30% on the year, counting as a moral win for Takeda.

Meanwhile, Ninlaro and inflammatory bowel disease med Entyvio each posted more than 30% sales growth on the year, helping prop up Takeda’s revenues in a year when net profits dropped 41.6% post-Shire buyout.

RELATED: Takeda gout drug Uloric loses first-line approval after FDA confirms death risks

With sales up and down and generics hitting its portfolio hard, Takeda could be in for a continued rough patch, especially with its gout drug Uloric losing traction with the FDA.

In February, U.S. regulators slapped the drug with a black box warning for an increased risk of death and boxed the drug out from first-line treatment. That move limited the U.S. patient pool to roughly 8.3 million individuals, putting a hard cap on the drug’s sales forecast. Despite Uloric sales growing 9.1% on the year in 2018, Takeda forecast the drug could see a 30% plummet in the coming year.