AstraZeneca said today it has purchased Amgen’s biologics bulk manufacturing plant in Boulder, CO, for an undisclosed price, in a deal the buyer said will double its biologic drug production capacity in the U.S.
Amgen was set to shut down the LakeCentre facility by the end of this year as part of cost-cutting efforts that also included the elimination of up to 4,000 jobs, and closings of facilities in Seattle, its suburb of Bothell, WA, and Longmont, CO.
However, Amgen ended manufacturing in Boulder as early as 2012, even writing off the $118 million carrying value of the facility that year, according to its Form 10-K annual report for 2014, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Amgen acquired the Boulder plant in 1994 when it bought Synergen for $239 million, and later expanded the facility.
Now, AstraZeneca said, it plans to start staffing LakeCentre immediately to support refurbishment and infrastructure improvements. The Boulder site is expected to be operational and licensed for commercial production by late 2017, AstraZeneca said.
Longer-term, the company added, LakeCentre could create up to 400 jobs, subject to unspecified approvals by local authorities.
AstraZeneca said it purchased the plant to support a biologics pipeline expected to grow. Biologics account for half of the company’s pipeline, with more than 120 ongoing programs—including more than 30 in clinical phases.
“This site will play an important role in our future commercial production and give AstraZeneca and MedImmune, our global biologics research and development arm, the flexibility and capacity to meet the needs of our rapidly growing biologics portfolio,” Pam Cheng, evp, operations and information technology at AstraZeneca, said in a statement.
Acquisition of the Boulder plant marks the third expansion by AstraZeneca of its biologics capabilities. The biopharma giant in May said it was investing approximately $285 million in a new biologics manufacturing facility in Södertälje, Sweden, focused on filling and packaging of protein therapeutics. That site is scheduled to begin supply drugs for clinical trial programs of AstraZeneca and MedImmune, by the end of 2018, and deliver finished products for commercial use once fully operational by 2019.
And in November 2014, AstraZeneca revealed plans for a $200 million-plus expansion of its Frederick, MD, biologics manufacturing center that will add approximately 40,000 additional square feet of manufacturing, laboratory, and administrative space—not to mention 300 new jobs.
AstraZeneca said its purchase of the Boulder plant will not affect its financial guidance to investors for 2015. The company on July 30 raised its guidance, saying it now expects total revenue to decline from 2014 by “a low- single digit percent” at constant exchange rates, up from mid-single digit. Non-GAAP “core” earnings per share—which excludes amortization, restructuring charges, legal settlements and acquisition-related costs—is expected to increase by a “low single-digit” percentage unchanged, reflecting continued accelerated investment in R&D.