Lonza plans to lay off 60 workers at Maryland plant beginning in December
- Lonza plans to lay off 60 people at a manufacturing plant in Walkersville, Maryland starting Dec. 1, according to a Maryland.gov work adjustment and retraining notification.
- The cuts come as a result of a realignment in the company, a Lonzo spokesperson confirmed to BioPharma Dive, and the creation of four cell and gene therapy centers in the U.S., the Netherlands and Singapore.
- The company is actively recruiting at these four sites, particularly in process development and manufacturing.
In February, Lonza announced the creation of its cell and gene therapy centers based around the company's existing sites.
A company spokesperson said the restructuring to the four centers was expected to impact roughly 120 positions at the Maryland site.
Lonza has retained, relocated or reassigned about half of those affected positions, and "are working to find solutions for the remaining 60 positions reflected in the WARN," the spokesperson stated.\
State WARN laws require larger companies to announce mass layoffs at least 60 days in advance. Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation posted Lonza's WARN on Oct. 19 with an effective date of Dec. 31, 2018.
Pearland, Texas and Geleen/Maastricht in the Netherlands are earmarked to offer cell and gene therapy services including process and analytical development, clinical product supply and commercial product supply.
Lonza called its 300,000-square-foot Pearland site, which officially opened in April, the "world’s largest dedicated cell-and-gene-therapy manufacturing facility."
Manufacturing is underway, and the company hopes to recruit more than 200 full-time staff including scientists, engineers and biotechnology professionals by the end of the year.
"Lonza Houston… has the potential to produce treatment for thousands of patients suffering from rare genetic disorders or life-threatening diseases, under one roof," said Andreas Weiler, Lonza's business unit head for emerging technologies. "It will set a new standard in biopharmaceutical manufacturing and stand as one of four centers of excellence in cell and gene therapy in the only global network spanning three continents."
Another two sites, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and in Singapore, will manufacture clinical and commercial supplies. Construction of multiple 6,000-liter bioreactors and a number of cell therapy manufacturing suites will begin in late 2018 in New Hampshire.
Cell therapy operations will shift away from Walkersville, Maryland, leaving this site with a focus on bioscience solutions. The company anticipated any layoffs that do occur in Walkersville will be over a one-year period beginning this December.
Lonza has been expanding elsewhere this year – earlier this month it announced the expansion of antibody-drug conjugate payload manufacturing in Visp, Switzerland.
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