Genzyme has tapped Hospira for help with manufacturing while it cleans up its act at a troubled plant. The outsourcing deal is aimed at alleviating shortages of two key drugs--partly to keep competitors from getting too much of a toehold in the market--and in the process, shoring up sales and keeping investors happy.
Hospira will handle fill-and-finish operations for vials of Cerezyme, the company's drug for Gaucher disease, and Fabrazyme, the Fabry disease treatment. The outsourcing arrangement also covers Myozyme, the Pompe disease drug, and Thyrogen, a thyroid treatment.
Genzyme had to shut down the Allston Landing facility in Massachusetts last year after viral contamination was found there. The company threw itself into cleanup operations and started ramping up again, but new production problems surfaced. Genzyme continues to struggle to get that plant up to full compliance. When the company's drugs went scarce, the FDA turned to some competitors' products, giving those drugmakers an opportunity to establish themselves with patients.
The Hospira deal should buy Genzyme some time. With fill-and-finish outsourced, the company will have the opportunity to replace some equipment. The FDA has to approve the arrangement, however, which could take some months. And Hospira has had its own manufacturing troubles lately; contamination problems forced the recall of some products last year. Genzyme says the plant handling its work isn't the same one that ran afoul of FDA rules.