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Amgen Sells Bay Area Facility

Amgen Sells Bay Area Facility

From Ventura County Star (CA) (January 19, 2011)

Jan. 18--Amgen Inc. announced today that it plans to sell its manufacturing and development facility in Fremont to a private contract company.

Amgen and German contract manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim said they had signed an agreement under which Boehringer would acquire Amgen's rights in and substantially all assets in the Fremont facility.

Financial details of the sale were not disclosed, but the companies said they planned for the deal to close in March. An Amgen spokeswoman said the sale was not expected to significantly affect the Thousand Oaks-based biotechnology company.

Amgen employs about 360 people at the Fremont facility, and Boehringer Ingelheim is expected to make offers to employ most, if not all, of them over the course of the next month, said Amgen spokeswoman Mary Klem.

"We look forward to welcoming the Amgen Fremont employees into the Boehringer Ingelheim family of companies," Wolfram Carius, a member of the Boehringer board, said in a statement.

Boehringer Ingelheim has been a contract manufacturer for Amgen for more than 10 years.

Amgen acquired the 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in April 2006 when it purchased Abgenix for $2.2 billion in cash and assumption of $500,000 in debt. Amgen had worked with Abgenix to develop the colorectal cancer drug that would eventually become Vectibix. The acquisition gave Amgen total control over the drug and its revenue.

Vectibix received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in September 2006.

The Fremont facility has been responsible for producing Vectibix, but Amgen is adding Vectibix production to its Rhode Island facility, where it already produces Enbrel, a drug used to treat inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

"Ultimately, we think it will be more efficient to make (Vectibix) at Rhode Island," Klem said.

While that facility gets ready to make Vectibix, the drug will continue to be produced on a contract basis by Boehringer Ingelheim in Fremont, she said. Once the commercial production transitions to Rhode Island, the Fremont facility will become a backup for production, she said.

Fabrizio Bonanni, Amgen's executive vice president of operations, said the company was pleased to build on its contract manufacturing relationship with Boehringer Ingelheim.

Amgen said the sale does not eliminate its commitment to the Bay Area. Amgen continues to maintain a research center in South San Francisco.

"That's really important to us," Klem said. "The biotech community in the San Francisco Bay Area is a vibrant one and an important one for Amgen to remain part of."

News of the sale went out after the markets closed today. Amgen shares closed at $57.29 today, a gain of 79 cents.

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Posted: January 2011