Restarted Genzyme plant slow off the mark

The good news: Genzyme says it's successfully restarted the Allston Landing plant shut down earlier this year because of contamination. The bad: It's not likely to turn out product as quickly as investors hoped.

Initial supplies of Fabrazyme, for the rare disorder Fabry disease, will be smaller than the company had projected. Genzyme's third-biggest seller, Fabrazyme accounted for $494 million in 2008 revenue, but 2009 sales are expected to come in around $450 million. That's down from an earlier forecast of $510 million to $520 million. Meanwhile, production of Cerezyme--the Gaucher disease drug--is back on track, the company says, but sales are still expected to reach only $800 million, down from $1.24 billion last year.

Analysts were less than thrilled with the announcements, saying Genzyme's news illustrates just how tough it is to reboot complex manufacturing processes after problems are found. Plus, the plant shutdown opened the door to competition for Cerezyme, as Shire and Protalix Biotherapeutics both got the FDA go-ahead to sell their unapproved Gaucher meds to combat the Cerezyme shortage. And the Fabrazyme shortfall is "disappointing," said Geoffrey Meacham of JP Morgan, "since the company's plan was once again off the mark."

- get the release from Genzyme
- read the Reuters news
- see the coverage from Bloomberg