Hundreds of Takeda employees in R&D and vaccines have been asked to relocate from suburban Chicago to the Boston area as part of a two-year effort to position its U.S. jobs in the vibrant scientific hub, according to a new report.
As reported by Modern Healthcare, 600 employees in R&D and 150 in vaccines who were based in Deerfield, Illinois, were required to move to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Contacted about the moves, a Takeda spokesperson didn't confirm details but also didn't refute the report.
Takeda has separately cut 480 primary care sales employees around the U.S., spokesman Jim Schwartz told FiercePharma. The sales cuts were part of a push at the drugmaker to focus more resources on oncology, Modern Healthcare reports.
Takeda announced plans to create a vaccine hub back in 2015, when it said it would close smaller sites in Montana, Wisconsin and Colorado to centralize the unit in the Boston area. The drugmaker said that process would take about two years to finish, “with the completion of U.S. consolidation by mid-2017,” according to a release.
All told, Takeda now has more than 5,000 employees in the U.S. Schwartz said the company's global vaccines and oncology business units are based in Cambridge, while the drugmaker also has research sites in Cambridge and San Diego, as well as a manufacturing site in Minnesota.
The U.S. business headquarters will remain in Illinois, he added.
"We are committed to our Deerfield location as it is home to our commercial organization," Schwartz said via email. "In addition to our sales and marketing teams, medical affairs and clinical operations teams also work out of the Deerfield site. Some employees in global functions such as IT, supply chain, and legal also work at the Deerfield site."
The moves come alongside Takeda’s decision earlier this year to buy Ariad, a Boston company, for $5.2 billion. In doing so, it picked up leukemia drug Iclusig and the newly approved ALK-inhibiting lung cancer drug Alunbrig. After that deal, Takeda laid off 180 employees with overlapping job responsibilities to seize cost savings.
Among big drug companies, Takeda is far from alone expanding its Boston presence, where world-class hospitals and research organizations are nearby. Amgen, Biogen, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi are just a few of the major companies in the area.
While Takeda is concentrating its efforts in cancer, the company has also been stepping up in vaccines, showcased by its its dengue candidate's recent move into phase 3. In an interview with FiercePharma at the time, global dengue program medical director Derek Wallace said the trial demonstrates a vaccines unit with a “global footprint.”
To that point, Boston is a global hub for the vaccine business unit, along with Zurich, Switzerland and Osaka, Japan. The company has regional vaccine hubs in Singapore and Brazil, plus manufacturing sites in Japan, North Carolina and Germany. Takeda recently secured up to $312 million from the U.S. government to work on a Zika vaccine candidate, and separately executed vaccine licensing arrangements with India’s Biological E to enter that market.
Aside from the personnel news at Takeda, the drugmaker scored a major win on Monday with a U.S. appeals court’s decision to reinstate a key patent on Velcade, providing the blockbuster multiple myeloma med with exclusive protections until 2022.