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Astellas to Consolidate R&D

Japanese pharma plans to outsource some functions while bringing others closer to its headquarters.


The Burrill Report

“The company will close Tarceva-developer OSI Pharmaceuticals, which it bought for $3.9 billion in 2010.”

Tokyo’s Astellas Pharma says it will take a $108 million (¥11 billion) loss as it shutters two U.S.-based pharma units and scales back its research operations in the United States.

The company will close Tarceva-developer OSI Pharmaceuticals, which it bought for $3.9 billion in 2010. Since then, it had become Astellas’ center of excellence for oncology small molecule discovery research. It is also closing Perseid Therapeutics, a joint venture with Maxygen that Astellas bought out for $76 million in 2011.

Astellas cast the announcement as a plan to “reshape its research framework” that will give it more flexibility to deploy internal and external resources as it moves to develop new drugs.

The company says it will increase its outsourcing of R&D work, expand its exploration of regenerative medicine and vaccines, accelerate development of its preclinical pipeline, and ensure sufficient investment in its late-stage pipeline.

Specific elements of the plan include a consolidation under the new Astellas Innovation Management of external opportunity reviews now conducted by multiple departments, streamlining of research management processes, track assignments that will allow for fast-tracking some projects, and reallocation of some research resources.

In addition, the company says it will quit its in-house fermentation research, and during fiscal 2015 close its Kashima facility in Osaka. Some research functions will be moved to its Tsukuba Research Center, a 1.5 million-square-foot drug discovery research facility in Tsukuba City, Japan.

The company did not mention any impact of its consolidation on its new 160,000-square-foot facility in Santa Monica, California. That site is slated to become the new home of Astellas Pharma affiliate Agensys.

The company says it also plans in April 2014 to consolidate its clinical development, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and pharmacovigilance operations about 7 miles closer to its headquarters in Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.

May 15, 2013

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