© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign at a diagnostics site for Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche is seen, in Burgess Hill, Britain October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
(This May 31 story has been corrected to fix the spelling of the executive’s name to Teresa, not Theresa, in paragraph 5)
By Michael Erman
(Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG (OTC:) plans to sell its 800-employee drug manufacturing plant in Vacaville, California, or it will close the plant by 2029, according to letters sent by email to workers seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
In a statement, Roche confirmed the plan to divest the site, which makes monoclonal antibodies from genetically modified living cells, but did not address the potential plant closure or its timeline.
The company said in the statement that it does not expect to need the very large volumes of drugs supplied by the factory, and that large-scale production will take place in one of the newest factories in the city. Company.
It also plans to focus on drugs targeting smaller patient populations in the future and rely on a range of biotechnology methods beyond monoclonal antibodies, he said, adding that he does not There would be no impact on operations or employees at this time.
Roche is under new management this year after CEO Thomas Schinecker took the helm and Teresa Graham became head of the pharmaceuticals division in March.
The Swiss group is under pressure to develop new treatments to compensate for the loss of billions in sales due to cheap biotech copies of its established cancer drugs Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan, some of which are manufactured in Vacaville.
It is also facing declining revenue from its COVID-19 therapies and tests.
The company said it was looking for a buyer who would continue to use the plant as an operating facility.
If the company is unable to find a buyer, it will reduce production and close the plant in 2028-29, the emails say.
Roche acquired the plant more than a decade ago with its purchase of US biotech Genentech. The plant manufactures cancer drugs including Avastin and Herceptin, as well as Actemra for rheumatoid arthritis.
During the pandemic, Roche has collaborated with Regeneron (NASDAQ:) Pharmaceuticals to increase the supply of that drugmaker’s COVID-19 antibody treatment. Roche manufactured the treatment at the Vacaville plant, which it sells outside the United States under the Ronapreve brand.