Olympus to close U.S. biologics plant and lay off 130

Japanese conglomerate Olympus has decided to give up in the U.S. on its efforts to manufacture regenerative products, a decision that will mean the loss of nearly 200 jobs. It is closing Olympus Biotech, and that means it will close its biologics manufacturing plant in New Hampshire if a buyer can't be found ASAP.

The company said last month that it was closing its biotech operations in the U.S. because it has been unable to generate enough "traction" here. In an email a spokesman said that the company thinks it will take about 6 months to wind everything down, and that it will start with its headquarters in Hopkinton, MA, where about 60 people will be laid off.

Closing biotech operations also means closing its biologics plant in West Lebanon, NH, by the end of August if a buyer can't be found. One hundred thirty jobs are at stake there. The company said earlier this month that it had put a "reduced sale price" on the 180,000-square-foot plant and had some interest, but so far no takers. The facility has two mammalian cell culture suites with fixed and single-use platforms as well as an area dedicated to process development activity. Olympus said that clinical aseptic fill capacity was recently added, with barrier isolator technology. "We feel that this is an opportunity for a biotech or pharmaceutical company to acquire a world class site at a small fraction of the replacement cost," the company said in a statement.

A spokesman said in an email today that "Olympus has entered into an aggressive sales process for the plant and is hopeful to secure a buyer for the plant before the end of May so that the facility can remain fully operational. If a buyer is not secured, the plant will cease operations at the end of August this year."

In its announcement last month, Olympus Biotech CEO David Renker said that the decision was difficult and came "only after numerous alternatives for business continuation were identified and exhausted over the past year."

One initiative included offering contract manufacturing at the New Hampshire facility. In October 2012, Olympus announced the CMO offering, saying it saw an opportunity in the increasing number of monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins in the market. Whatever interest there was, a spokesman said today that there were no CMO clients to transition. The Olympus biologics plant is not the only one in that area that is closing. Lonza said last year it would close a biologics plant in Hopkinton that had struggled since being cited in a warning letter from the FDA in 2011. In January, the Swiss company said its clients were moving to other manufacturers.

- here's the original announcement
- here's the latest announcement
- read the Boston Business Journal story