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Amgen (AMGN) Alerts R&D Changes to Employees

10/13/2011 7:21:35 AM

By Ron Leuty, Reporter - San Francisco Business Times

Amgen Inc. told workers Wednesday it will reshape its R&D unit, which could mean big changes for the biotech company’s South San Francisco operations.

A spokeswoman for Thousand Oaks-based Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) said the world’s largest biotech company is “evaluating some changes within our research and development organization to improve focus and to reallocate resources to key pipeline assets and activities,” according to the Ventura County Star.

Amgen said it would give more details on the shakeup when it reports its third-quarter financial results on Oct. 24.

The changes will cut across all of Amgen's R&D operations in the United States and the United Kingdom, a spokeswoman told the San Francisco Business Times, but she wouldn't provide detail about the moves.

Amgen's South San Francisco R&D operations are the company's largest outside of Thousand Oaks. It also has R&D centers in Cambridge, Mass.; Seattle; Burnaby, Canada; Uxbridge, U.K.; and Germany.

Amgen had big expansion plans in South San Francisco after an acquisition spree, including Abgenix Inc. of Fremont and South San Francisco’s Tularik. But with the federal government decision in 2007 to limit Medicare reimbursement for drugs that treat anemia in cancer patients — potentially hurting Amgen’s keystone Aranesp and Epogen products — the company cut 2,000 jobs through layoffs, buyouts and not filling open positions. At the same time, Amgen said it would sublease 365,000 square feet in South San Francisco.

The company has since moved into some of that space, controlled by real estate investment trust HCP Inc., but two buildings totaling 250,000 square feet remain on the sublease market.

Beyond Aranesp and Epogen, the monoclonal antibody Vectibix, a product picked up in the Abgenix deal, failed a Phase III head and neck cancer trial in summer 2010.

David Lacey, who led Amgen’s operations in South San Francisco and was senior vice president of discovery research, retired July 1. His responsibilities were split between Joe Miletich, who took on Lacey’s discovery research work, and Terry Rosen, formerly head of operations at Tularik, became the South San Francisco site chief.

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