250 Workers to Lose their Jobs as Alexion Shutters Plant
Rare-disease drug manufacturer Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that the company is permanently closing its manufacturing site in Smithfield, Rhode Island, as part of a restructuring move.
Some 250 local employees will face layoffs due to the closure of the site, while its operations will be moved to manufacturing plants in other parts of the United States and Ireland. The company will soon begin winding down operations and the plant will fully close by mid-2018.
The plant was known for producing Alexion’s drug “Soliris,” an expensive treatment for two rare diseases. But the company is now moving on to manufacturing new treatments and says that the Smithfield plant is no longer “optimally suited” for its newer drugs.
The decision to wrap up operations in the state has come within 15 months of the company sharing its plans to expand within Rhode Island. Alexion is now backpedaling on that $200.0 million expansion plan as it changes its corporate strategy.
Alexion has recently undergone rapid strategic changes; three different CEOs have led the company in the past two years. Its current CEO has been on the job less than a year, since last December.
The shutdown announcement has disappointed state officials, who were expecting the biotechnology company to expand in Rhode Island, create employment, and boost the city’s biotechnology sector.
Although the company did not receive any monetary incentives from the state government, it did receive a piece of land from the state for its expansion in Smithfield.
The plant closure follows Alexion’s restructuring plan that was announced on Tuesday. As part of this plan, Alexion is closing a number of manufacturing sites, cutting 20% of its global workforce, and moving its corporate headquarters from New Haven, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts. More than 600 employees at Alexion are facing layoffs in this round.
The restructuring will allow the company to save about $270.0 million in annual costs by 2019. The drugmaker plans to put about $100.0 million of the savings into research and development initiatives to discover new treatments for rare diseases.
“Alexion closing RI manufacturing facility, 250 losing jobs,” WPRI, September 12, 2017.