Biogen restructuring claims 650 jobs

Biogen Idec ($BIIB) said today it's undergoing a major restructuring that will claim 650 jobs--about 13 percent of the company's total workforce. The biotech is closing three sites, and the company's sites in eastern Massachusetts will be consolidated into existing facilities in Cambridge and Weston. Additionally, Biogen is abandoning cardiovascular medicine and plans to spin out or outlicense its oncology assets. It will focuse instead on neurology.

"We have been operating in too many therapeutic areas and haven't maximized our opportunities," CEO George Scangos (photo) said in a statement. "We will now focus on a few areas where we can be among the best, and this starts with neurology." He added the company will target treatments for multiple sclerosis, myotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson's disease; Biogen will also pursue hemophilia and immunology projects. The company plans to aggressively in-license projects in these selected therapeutic areas. Small molecule discovery will be "substantially reduced," while the developer will cut certain neurology and immunology programs, including neublastin for neuropathic pain and anti-TWEAK. In total, the Biogen is dropping 11 programs.

The planned plant closings are in line with the R&D shift. Biogen will relocate its U.S. workforce from six current locations into three existing facilities in Weston and Cambridge, MA and Research Triangle Park, NC. Facilities in San Diego, Waltham, MA and Wellesley, MA will be closed.

The changes are expected to cost Biogen about $115 million but will help the developer save $300 million annually. "The loss of jobs at Biogen Idec is something I deeply regret but is an unavoidable outcome of our new focus," explained Scangos.

- take a look at Biogen's release