UPDATED: Takeda uprooting its U.S. vaccines operations, joining the R&D migration to Boston

The unending game of global reorganization in biopharma R&D is continuing with a new move by Takeda to shutter several vaccines operations scattered around the U.S. with plans to concentrate its efforts and the work now done by about 150 staffers in the hot Boston/Cambridge, MA hub.

Takeda, which has a large cancer drug development organization in the old Millennium group it acquired in Cambridge several years ago, said this afternoon that it will close vaccine facilities in Bozeman, MT--which it obtained through the $60 million LigoCyte buyout in 2012--as well as the Madison, WI, and Fort Collins, CO, sites, which came to Takeda through the $250 million acquisition of Inviragen in 2013. At the time Inviragen had a staff of 51.

In addition, the current U.S. vaccine business hub in Deerfield, IL, will shift its activities to Boston/Cambridge. A spokesperson for the company said Takeda currently only has a handful of vaccine unit staffers in the Cambridge area, adding that it's too soon to say how many of the 150 employees affected by the decision will relocate to the new hub.

The company said in a statement that it plans to complete the reorganization by the middle of 2017. The spokesperson said that the company hasn't decided on a location for the hub, "but co-location with the organizations at the Takeda Boston site will allow for increased collaboration."

CEO Christophe Weber

The move into Boston/Cambridge comes during a hectic season of comings and goings in the U.S. biopharma industry. After recently completing an asset swap with Novartis ($NVS), a downsizing GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) said it would shutter the Novartis vaccines R&D group in Cambridge, which accounted for some 300 staffers, and move the unit to Rockville, MD, where GSK is creating its new global vaccines center. In the meantime Merck ($MRK), Sanofi ($SNY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) have been axing or spinning out staffers in the region as Shire ($SHPG) relocates employees now in Pennsylvania up to its headquarters in Massachusetts. And Pfizer ($PFE) has been adding and subtracting staffers at its new Cambridge R&D HQ, which the pharma giant opened last summer.

Takeda, meanwhile, has been doing some reorganizing as well. CEO Christophe Weber has been a voluble advocate of shaking up the aging Japanese pharma company and has made revving up the company's vaccines division a key part of the new plan. In Cambridge, Takeda dropped the iconic Millennium name and redubbed it Takeda Oncology, naming a new chief to manage the group.

Takeda vaccines head Dr. Rajeev Venkayya

Under this new plan the Boston/Cambridge, MA area and Zurich, Switzerland, will serve as the global hubs for the Vaccine Business Unit outside of Japan. VBU will also maintain regional hubs in Singapore and in Brazil and will operate manufacturing sites in Hikari, Japan, Durham, NC, and Singen, Germany.

"Our sites in Bozeman, Fort Collins, Madison and Deerfield have been instrumental in bringing our dengue and norovirus programs to late stages of clinical development. This consolidation will help us to achieve the efficiency and operational excellence needed to execute the Phase III clinical programs and set the stage for global commercialization of these vaccines," said Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda's Vaccine Business Unit, in a statement.

- here's the release

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