Shire will cut U.S. locations and move HQ in consolidation push

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The move comes in the midst of a big transformation for Shire, which acquired both Dyax and Baxalta last year, leaving it with a huge task in refining its commercial structures.

Shire has decided to concentrate its U.S. operations into two main sites in Massachusetts—Cambridge and Lexington—in a move that will probably lead to the closure of some sites.

The Ireland-headquartered group employs more than 3,000 people in the state but stressed that despite the consolidation plans, it does not expect any significant reduction in overall headcount. In fact, some R&D staffers will be moved to Massachusetts from Europe and the company is expecting to make plenty of new hires in the coming years.

When the process is completed, its rare disease research and U.S. commercial operations will be based at a site in Kendall Square, Cambridge, that was formerly operated by Sanofi Genzyme and was leased last year, along with an adjacent site that put together form a 550,000-square-foot campus.

Meanwhile, Lexington—the company's current U.S. HQ—will be the location for manufacturing of biologic drugs and the development and production of delivery systems, including digitally connected devices.

Shire is now the state’s second-largest biopharma employer, according to a Boston Globe article (sub. req.), but according to the company's CEO Flemming Ornskov it has "a bit of a fragmented structure" there with staff "spread out in many locations" including units at Alewife, Milford, Burlington and North Reading.

Not all of the company's Massachusetts employees are happy with the news, however, with some concerned that they will face big problems commuting into the increasingly congested Kendall Square area.

The move comes in the midst of a big transformation for Shire, which acquired both Dyax and Baxalta last year and left it with a huge task in refining its commercial structures, ushering a dramatically increased pipeline of products to market and advancing a broader R&D base with around 40 drugs in clinical development.

Shire has already started to streamline its locations in the wake of the takeovers, and is currently taking a good look at its manufacturing network, where it currently has 17 sites in seven countries and employs around 14,000 people.

Ornskov will be directly overseeing the changes—that are due to complete by mid-2019—for the time being following the departure of former R&D chief Phil Vickers, who has said he intends to step down from the position.