Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Thermo Fisher Scientific plans for future growth at new diagnostics center; Virginia API plant finds buyer.

Thermo Fisher Scientific brought more than 500 employees previously scattered in four sites under one roof when it opened its new $85 million Niche Diagnostics Center of Excellence in Fremont, CA. The 350,000-square-foot facility serves as a site for developing and manufacturing next-generation assays for therapeutic drug monitoring, drugs of abuse screening and other ready-to-use tests, as well as QA controls and microparticles for diagnostic and life science applications.

“The new facility allows us to expand, up to about double the workforce,” Tom Keppeler, a company spokesman, told GEN. Those future employees, he said, will include sales, research and development, manufacturing, and customer training and support staffers.

“By creating the new Niche Diagnostics Center of Excellence, Thermo Fisher has brought together research and development, marketing, sales, manufacturing and customer training capabilities into one beautiful new facility,” Keppeler said.

Employees in those functions were previously at any of three sites in Fremont, as well as a site in Benicia, CA. “As the home of three of our sites—and another nearby—Fremont was an attractive location for our new Niche Diagnostics Center of Excellence. Its proximity to many key customers and partners, an educated and talented workforce, and proximity to our other sites in the Bay Area made Fremont a logical fit,” Keppeler added.

The new facility primarily focuses on developing assays that run on Thermo Fisher Scientific’s clinical and specialty analyzers, as well as on analyzers made by other manufacturers. The company’s offerings include the Thermo Scientific Indiko Plus Clinical and Specialty Chemistry System, a fully automated random access benchtop system for clinical and specialty chemistry testing; and the Thermo Scientific Konelab Prime 60 Clinical Chemistry Analyzer, an integrated system for routine clinical chemistry tests, electrolytes and special chemistries, including specific proteins, TDM and DoA tests. Both are manufactured in Finland.

“The manufacturing focus of the Fremont facility is on the assay and controls side, not hardware—although we have plenty of hardware on site for testing, validation, and training,” Keppeler said.

The company has similar centers of excellence, focused on different product lines, throughout the U.S, as well as Europe and the APAC region.

TENRY: Chinese Pharma Expands Stateside

In less than a decade, Tenry Pharmaceutical has grown into one of China’s top drug developers, with 500 employees and five subsidiaries worldwide focused on R&D, manufacturing, and sales of pharmaceuticals, APIs, dietary supplements, and food additives. And as numerous Western multinationals have done, Tenry is now looking overseas for growth.

Through its UniTao Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, Tenry has entered the U.S. by agreeing to acquire the API manufacturing facility being shut down by Boehringer Ingelheim in Petersburg, VA. UniTao said it will spend $22.5 million to refurbish the plant and reopen it as a production site for APIs that will employ 376 people.

“The 376 jobs are projected in three years. More than 90% of the jobs are expected to be filled locally/domestically,” Christian Munson, a UniTao spokesman, told GEN. “UniTao is working to get up and running as soon as possible.

Boehringer employed 240 when it announced plans to close the plant last year. At present, “BI only is keeping around 20 people to help on the transition,” spokesman Pere Paton told GEN. “UniTao has already started to hire former BI employees and they are preparing all startup activities.”

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement that Tenry chose the Old Dominion State over California and China following a meeting between him and company officials in Shanghai, part of an Asia “marketing mission” that included visits to Japan and South Korea.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP)—a state authority whose 25-member board is appointed by McAuliffe and the General Assembly—worked with the city of Petersburg to woo Tenry. In return for choosing Virginia, the company is eligible for more than $2 million in economic incentives.

In addition to $1 million from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, the company will also receive an estimated $556,500 in sales and use tax exemption on machinery and equipment; an estimated $326,000 in Major Business Facility Job Tax Credits; and funding and services to support employee training from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program of $1,200 per job, or $451,200. “The company will choose from a menu of recruiting and training providers in the region. The funding will available for recruiting, training, screening, and assessments as determined by the company,” Suzanne W. Clark, a VEDP spokeswoman, told GEN.

APIs for products that included nevirapine, telmisartan, and dabigatran—as well as starting materials and intermediates for blood thinner Pradaxa—accounted for 70% of the plant’s total production under Boehringer.

AMGEN: 349 HQ Jobs Face Axe

Amgen solved one mystery last week when it quietly told California’s Economic Development Department how many headquarters jobs it plans to eliminate under its latest wave of layoffs.

California officials received notice October 28 that Amgen will eliminate within its Thousand Oaks headquarters 349 jobs—between nearly one-third (32%) and more than one-half (58%)—of the 600 to 1,100 additional jobs the company said would be jettisoned in an expansion of a companywide restructuring first announced this past summer. The workforce reduction is effective December 22.

Amgen has said the additional job cuts will benefit the company by allowing it to improve its adjusted operating margin by 15 percentage points, from 37.3% last year to between 52% and 54% by 2018. The biotech giant has been criticized by some analysts in recent years for underperforming.

Back in July, Amgen said it would eliminate 2,400 to 2,900 workers—12% to 15% of its workforce—and shut down facilities in the states of Washington and Colorado.

JOBCETERA: Patheon, GlaxoSmithKline

  • GROWING CDMO: Patheon said it will create 488 more jobs over five years at its Greenville, NC, facility by the end of 2019, under a planned $159 million expansion of the site. The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) services unit of DPx Holdings will grow and modernize its manufacturing capabilities in Greenville, which will become the home of Patheon’s sterile fill operations. North Carolina and the city of Greenville have committed $7 million in economic incentives tied to meeting job-creation goals, with Patheon promising in return to keep its 1,680 existing jobs in the state. DPx Holdings’ U.S. headquarters is in Durham, NC.
  • NO NEW JOBS: GlaxoSmithKline Australia said no new additional jobs are planned when it introduces a new high-speed blow-fill-seal machine for manufacturing Ventolin (salbutamol sulfate) nebules at its Boronia manufacturing site. “There is no direct increase in headcount attributed to this announcement. However, investing in advanced technology will build the Boronia factory’s capabilities and productivity, thus strengthening competitiveness against international manufacturers and securing the future for the business,” GSK Australia spokeswoman Zoe Adler Bishop told GEN.

Share your biopharma job news and trends with JobWatch. Please contact Alex Philippidis via email at [email protected] or via Twitter at @AlexWestchester.

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