- Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma Inc. announced Wednesday it has sold former Agensys research facilities located in Santa Monica, California, to Gilead Sciences Inc.'s Kite Pharma unit for an undisclosed price.
- A report from the CoStar Group in January indicated Gilead planned to pay $135 million for the Santa Monica site, which Astellas had used for its antibody-drug conjugate research.
- Kite Pharma, which developed the lymphoma treatment Yescarta before Gilead bought the biotech for $11.9 billion late last summer, currently manufactures the CAR-T therapy at its facility in El Segundo, California — about 12 miles southeast of Santa Monica.
Gilead certainly isn't hurting for cash to splash out on some pricey real estate. The Foster City, California-based biotech reported $36.7 billion in cash and equivalents as of December 31, 2017 and plans to bring $28 billion back to the U.S. as a result of changes to the corporate tax law.
No antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are currently listed in Gilead's pipeline, but the company could be planning to use the R&D facility for other purposes involving Kite's research activities.
Kite purposefully chose to locate its El Segundo facility nearby to the Los Angeles airport to speed the shipping and receiving of patient cells used in its CAR-T treatments. The company says the plant has sufficient capacity to produce 4,000-plus patient therapies per year — about half the number of cases of diffuse large b-cell lymphoma diagnosed each year.
Astellas has planned to divest the sites for some time, announcing last July it planned to wind down its Agensys operations as part of a shift away from ADCs.
While it's mostly exiting the field, the Japanese drugmaker has said some clinical trials and collaborations on ADC programs — in particular, work with Seattle Genetics Inc. — will continue through the wind-down.
Astellas had bought Agensys and its facilities in 2007 for nearly $390 million in cash upfront, but the acquisition did not pan out as originally envisioned.