Amgen Shutting Down Epogen Manufacturing

Amgen Shutting Down Epogen Manufacturing in Longmont [Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.]

From Daily Times-Call (Longmont, CO) (August 9, 2012)

Aug. 08--LONGMONT -- Amgen has notified its Longmont employees that it will cease manufacturing the drug Epogen, which is made in bulk form at its Longmont facility, in 12 to 15 months. Epogen is the sole drug the company makes that is manufactured in Longmont.

About 485 people work at the Longmont site. The company’s LakeCentre facility in Boulder, which employs about 240, will not be affected.

The move will almost certainly lead to the loss of jobs, but local spokeswoman Peggy Krause said she couldn’t say how many.

"We don’t know what the answer to that is," Krause said Wednesday. "As we get closer to the 12- to 15-month time frame (we’ll have a better idea)."

Employees were notified in June, she said.

But the

Longmont site is not shutting down completely, she said. Aside from the manufacture of Epogen, the Longmont facility houses quality control and process engineering and process development divisions, whose functions serve the entire company.

Asked if those operations would continue in Longmont, Krause said, "I can’t speak to that. At this point in time there are no changes to how we are going to deliver our services."

Longmont is the only Amgen facility where Epogen is being made in bulk. Krause said the move to shut it down is part of a change in the company’s manufacturing strategy. It intends to ramp up the production of the bulk version of Epogen, called Epoetin Alfa Intermediate, over the next 12 to 15 months and then Building 20, where the drug is manufactured, will be idled. Leaving it idle, rather than shutting it down completely, will allow the company to easily start remanufacturing if it ever needs to in the future.

Epogen is used to stimulate red blood cells in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease and cancer.

According to Amgen’s most recent earnings report, sales of Epogen fell to $525 million in the second quarter, a 3 percent drop from the same quarter last year. Sales have been steadily falling: the company sold $2 billion worth in 2011, $2.5 billion and $2.6 billion in 2009.

John Cody, president and CEO of the Longmont Area Economic Council, said he had heard what the company was planning from a third party, and the company then confirmed it directly with him.

"I don’t know how many jobs that will mean," Cody said. "But as far as I know, the majority of their work force (in Longmont) is related to the manufacture of Epogen. But if I had to quantify that into a number I couldn’t say."

Amgen was founded in 1980 in California by four venture capitalists who, the following year, struck a collaborative agreement with four scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1995 the company bought out Boulder-based Synergen and renamed that facility LakeCentre. The same year Amgen started building in Longmont. It initially bought 70 acres, and after the city annexed an adjacent 160 acres Amgen bought that ground.

The Longmont facility at Airport and Nelson roads has about 700,000 square feet, 220,000 of that devoted to production.

LakeCentre in Boulder is about 300,000 square feet.

In 2003, Amgen laid out its long-term plans for the Longmont City Council and said that, decades out, it planned to have about 1 million square feet and employ up to 5,000 people.

This latest news obviously puts those plans in jeopardy.

"This plant was specialized for that purpose (manufacturing Epogen) and pretty much that purpose only," Cody said.

Amgen’s stock (Nasdaq: AMGN) was down 20 cents a share to close at $81.37 Wednesday.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-684-5291 or at tkindelspire@times-call.com.

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(c)2012 the Daily Times-Call (Longmont, Colo.)

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Posted: August 2012


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