Aug 10 Personalized Medicine

The Business Cocktail

Loom of Patent Expiry leads Bristol-Myers Squibb to nix 58 marketing jobs

Bristol-Myers Squibb will soon bid farewell to its exclusive lock on a pair of HIV drugs—and, as a result, 58 workers will bid farewell to their jobs. The company is making changes to their HIV portfolio businessin anticipation of end-of-year generic competition, and those changes include nixing all commercial backing for the HIV lineup in the U.S. Effective Oct. 6. Six of the employees work at Bristol-Myers’ Princeton Pike facility, and the other 52 are remote workers scattered across the country who report to managers located at Princeton Pike. The two meds each brought in big bucks last year, though they’ve been on the decline for a few years now, thanks to new-and-improved options from field leaders Gilead Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline. Reyataz slipped below the blockbuster benchmark in 2016, churning out $912 million—a dip from 2015’s $1.14 billion and 2014’s $1.36 billion. But it may be able to hang onto sales around the world; the brand is expected to lose exclusivity in the EU between 2017 and 2019, and it’ll fend off generic competitors beginning in 2019 in Japan.

Pfizer commits $100M for a gene therapies plant in North Carolina

Pfizer committed to building a $100 million gene therapies plant in North Carolina and in exchange, North Carolina committed to providing the drugmaker with a quarter-million dollars' worth of help. Pfizer will expand an 11,000-square-foot plant in Sanford, North Carolina that it acquired last year when it bought gene therapies biotech Bamboo Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $688 million. Bamboo bought the facility last year from the University of North Carolina about the time that Pfizer made is initial investment in the company. The drugmaker considered building a facility in Massachusetts where it has other research and manufacturing operations but decided on North Carolina where it will receive a $250,000 performance grant from the state for the project and its 40 jobs.

Merck and GlaxoSmithKline production issues lead to global shortage of hepatitis B vaccine

A global shortage of hepatitis B vaccine has developed as both Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline deal with manufacturing issues, leading health agencies in England to ration use to those most at risk. Both drugmakers have acknowledged issues. Merck has had manufacturing constraints in 2017 related to the growing global demand for vaccines and unexpected demand due to lack of competitive supply. The supply interruptions for the adult formulation of RecombivaxHB began in the first quarter of 2017 and Merck does not expect to be distributing the vaccine in the United States between now and the end of 2018. A notice by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control posted last month said that GSK has sufficient supplies of adult and pediatric hepatitis B vaccines to address the anticipated gap in Merck’s supply. While GSK has been able to cover for shortages in the past, the company is currently dealing with manufacturing issues of its own.

Shire unloads plant to Merck as it goes on a manufacturing diet after buyout splurge

Shire has found a buyer for a former Baxter vaccine plant in Europe as it continues its manufacturing consolidation after completing two big buyouts last year. Merck & Co. said today that it is buying the plant in Krems an der Donau, Austria, and will immediately begin renovating the 340,000-square-foot facility, which it will use for animal vaccine production. Merck, whose animal health business was up 6% to $950 million in the second quarter, expects to be able to start production in 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Merck spokeswoman Pamela Eisele said the company estimates the site will eventually employ several hundred people and that it will begin posting available jobs immediately. Shire got the facility in its $32 billion buyout of Baxalta, which it bought last year after Baxter spun off the drug business. The plant was closed at the end of October as part of Shire’s post-merger plan to cut about $700 million out of the combined operations over three years.

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