Shire to Hire Up to 200 New Employees for Baxalta's Kendall Square Research Center

Shire to Hire Up to 200 New Employees for Baxalta's Kendall Square Research Center June 3, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With the Shire and Baxalta marriage almost complete, Shire is looking to expand the Baxalta research facility in Kendall Square by hiring about 100 to 200 more employees, the Boston Globe reported this morning.

Flemming Ornskov, Shire’s chief executive officer, told the Globe he also intends to open an office in the area to enable him to keep an eye on the entrepreneurial work being done in Kendall Square. He touted the research being conducted in Kendall Square and the greater Boston area, saying it was important for Shire to be “in the flow of a place that’s one of the world’s centers for innovation.”

A presence in the white-hot pharma mecca of Kendall Square, a square mile of pharma and biotech heavy hitters, is one of the treasures that Shire acquired in the Baxalta Deal. In December 2015, Baxalta opened the Kendall Square-based research facility focused on developing oncology therapies and biosimilars. Baxalta already has approximately 400 employees working at the research site in Kendall Square. Last month there was some questions regarding job security for some of Baxalta’s Kendall Square-based employees when the merger between the two companies is finalized, but it seems from what Ornskov told the Globe, their positions should be safe.

The Baxalta research center is not the only foothold Shire has in the Boston area. Shire, which is based in Ireland, has a presence in nearby Lexington when it acquired Tranksaryotic Therapies Inc. in 2005. Shire also has property about seven miles from its Lexington facilities when it acquired Dyax, leaving questions as to what will happen with that property. When the deal with Baxalta is finalized, Ornskov told the Globe that Shire will have approximately 1.8 million square feet of office, research, and manufacturing space in Massachusetts.

In January, Shire finalized an agreement to acquire Illinois-based Baxalta. In July Baxalta Incorporated, a pharmaceutical spinout of Baxter launched with hopes of fielding 20 new products by 2020. Since its spinoff, Shire Pharmaceuticals has been going back and forth with Baxalta in an attempt to acquire the company. Nine days after Baxalta launched, Shire approached the company with a stock-only deal worth almost $31 billion. In early August, Shire went public with the offer in hopes of pressuring the Baxalta board and shareholders into considering the deal. After six months, the Baxalta board agreed to the deal, which is valued at about $32 billion.

The merger of Shire and Baxalta will create a pharmaceutical company with one of the largest rare disease platforms, with expectations of achieving sales of about $20 million by 2020. The pipeline will include Baxalta’s hematology drug, Adynovate, Antihemophilic Factor (Recombinant), PEGylated, to treat hemophilia A, and Hyqvia, a next-generation subcutaneous immunoglobulin (IG) product to treat patients with primary immunodeficiency. Shire's top drug is Vyvanse, for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) and for moderate-to-severe Binge Eating Disorder. Another rare disease drug in Shire’s arsenal is Cinryze for the treatment of hereditary angioedema, which is expected to generate $765 million. In October, Cinryze received Fast Track Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for intravenous administration in subjects with Antibody Mediated Rejection in renal transplant recipients.

Since Ireland-based Shire set up shop in Lexington, Mass. in 2014, the company has quickly expanded from approximately 1,450 employees to more than 2,600. But the Dublin-based Shire is poised to become an even larger presence in the Bay State following acquisitions of Baxalta Incorporated and Dyax Corp. When factoring in the number of employees from Shire’s two latest acquisitions, the company could soon employ as many as 4,000 people in Massachusetts, about the same number as rival drugmaker, Biogen .

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