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October 3, 2013

Boehringer to close manufacturing lab, losing 1,100 jobs

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH has announced plans to shutdown its Ben Venue Laboratories unit by the end of the month, cutting 1,100 jobs and putting pressure on the supply of drugs for cancer and other diseases.

By Heidi Vella

Medicines

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH has announced plans to shutdown its Ben Venue Laboratories unit by the end of the month, cutting 1,100 jobs and putting pressure on the supply of drugs for cancer and other diseases.

The US-based laboratory, which makes drugs for its own sale and for other companies, has suffered many production problems over the past few years, resulting in close monitoring from the US Food and Drug Administration and shortages of drugs such as Doxil.

Last week Johnson & Johnson, which sells Doxil, said it expected more shortages of the drug because of ‘external difficulties’ reported The Wall Street Journal.

A J&J spokesperson told the Journal it was working with Ben Venue to ensure continued supplies and the manufacturing laboratory was just one of several options to continue to explore in order to keep the therapy accessible for patients in the short and long term.

"Ben Venue understands the importance of the drugs the company produces, and will work to help ensure that these critical medicines continue to reach the patients who need them."

Ben Venue also manufactures cancer treatments adriamycin and methotrexate, the anesthetics midazolam and ketamine, and the antipsychotic haloperidol. It also produces its own line of sterile injectable drugs.

The company has spent more than $350m to date on Ben Venue to upgrade its production. However, despite this it still projected operating losses over the next five years of about $700m if it kept trying to meet good manufacturing standards.

The company decided to end production by the end of the year instead.

The company told the Journal: "The effort, magnitude of investment, and additional years required to remediate the facility before Ben Venue can return to sustainable production is not feasible.

"Ben Venue understands the importance of the drugs the company produces, and will work to help ensure that these critical medicines continue to reach the patients who need them."


Image: Ben Venue also makes cancer treatments adriamycin and methotrexate, the anesthetics midazolam and ketamine, and the antipsychotic haloperidol. Photo: courtesy of Adam Ciesielski.

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