Lonza starting job cuts at troubled U.S. biologics plant

Swiss contract manufacturer Lonza has been dealing with quality issues at its biologics plant in Hopkinton, MA, for a couple of years. And so in July, the company said it had decided to phase it out, eliminate 250 jobs and concentrate that work at a facility in Switzerland. The company says now most of those cuts will happen by the end of the year.

According to The Boston Globe, the company says it will cut 100 positions there in September and another 100 by the end of the year. "It is part of an overall reorganization that Lonza is doing," company spokeswoman Melanie Disa told the Globe. "Operations (in Hopkinton) are continuing for the foreseeable future."

The company has struggled to get the plant up to FDA expectations, creating supply issues for clients. That facility has had issues since at least 2011, when it received an FDA warning letter focused on failed batches of an API manufactured for a cancer drug from Japanese drugmaker Eisai. But it is French drugmaker Ipsen ($IPN) that has reported supply issues tied to the plant. In April, it told the market it expected supply interruptions of its orphan drug Increlex because of ongoing manufacturing issues at the Lonza plant.

In July, the Swiss chemical and contract manufacturing company said it had decided to shift most of its biologics manufacturing attention to its plant in Visp, "where we have successfully operated small and large-scale assets for that technology for many years." The company also closed a plant in Ireland in the first quarter and intends to close a plant in St. Beauzire, France, in the fourth quarter. The company has taken a CHF 69 million ($73.9 million) charge to cover the costs of the plant reductions but said it expected to save CHF 100 million ($107.1 million) through 2016 from the moves. None of the moves affect Lonza's U.S. pharmaceuticals and biologics headquarters in Portsmouth, NH, where it employs about 780, the newspaper said.

- here's the Boston Globe story