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Shire to focus rare disease R&D with new US facility

Cambridge, Massachusetts hub to drive firm’s push to become leading rare disease specialist

ShireShire has signed a lease on a new building in Cambridge, Massachusetts that will form the hub of its research into treatments for rare diseases.

The decision highlights the importance of the Dublin-based drugmaker's rare disease portfolio, which accounts for around two-thirds of its turnover since it completed a $32bn acquisition of Baxter spin-out Baxalta earlier this year.

Since then, Shire has pulled out of some other areas – notably biosimilars and some oncology projects – to narrow down its focus.

The overall intention is to grow the business into the world's leading rare disease company – something Shire claims to have already achieved with the Baxalta merger - with sales of $20bn a year by 2020.

The new 343,000-square-foot building on Shire's Kendall Square campus – which was originally owned by Sanofi's Genzyme unit, another rare disease powerhouse - is due to start operations in the first quarter of 2019 and will house some 1,000 staff.

According to the company it will "catalyse Shire's serial innovation across a range of rare diseases and highly specialised conditions".

The company's chief executive Flemming Ornskov said the expansion in Cambridge makes sense given the site's "close proximity to best-in-class hospitals, research institutions, universities and a thriving biotechnology community”.

He said the company will retain its current office, laboratory and manufacturing units in Massachusetts, including its operations in Lexington, and intends to add around 400 new members of staff in the state in the coming months. There will be some re-shuffling, however, with the company planning a review to see which workers will re-locate to the new unit.

Shire now has over 50 rare diseases programmes in various stages of clinical development and, together with its already marketed products, anticipates these will account for around 65% of its projected annual revenue by 2020.

Article by
Phil Taylor

23rd November 2016

From: Sales

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