Astellas chops OSI, Perseid ops in global R&D restructuring

Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma is rolling out a major R&D restructuring effort, shuttering facilities at its OSI Pharmaceuticals and Perseid Therapeutics subsidiaries and cutting back its work at the Astellas Research Institute of America to focus solely on CNS diseases. The cutbacks are also hitting home in Japan, where Astellas says it will close a facility in Osaka and relocate the work it does there to other units.

There's no word just how many jobs are being cut, but Newsday reports that all 115 staffers at the OSI facility on Long Island were told on Monday that they were being laid off. Astellas will lock up its labs at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park in Farmingdale, ending work that included the development of Tarceva. Astellas bought out OSI back in 2010 for $4 billion. 

The research institute in Illinois was originally named the Fujisawa Research Institute of America, before Fujisawa and Yamanouchi merged in 2005 to create Astellas. Astellas unveiled a new $150 million U.S. campus in Northbrook last year, boasting to Chicago reporters that the move broadcast the company's "arrival" as a big player in the pharma industry.  

Astellas says its R&D shakeup includes a consolidation of the work being done for preclinical research, broader authority for research units organized by therapeutic area, with a special in-house "fast-track" designation being awarded to top programs that can be sped through the R&D process. 

"In conjunction with the reshaping of Astellas' research framework, in April 2014, functions including the Clinical Development, QA (Quality Assurance) & RA (Regulatory Affairs) and Pharmacovigilance currently located in Itabashi-ku, Tokyo, will be relocated and consolidated closer to Astellas' headquarter in Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, as part of initiatives to pursue excellence in Astellas' operation model," the company said in a statement.

Astellas is just the latest in a long line of pharma companies to restructure R&D. Pfizer ($PFE), Roche ($RHHBY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) have all been chopping unproductive units and searching for greater efficiency in research. The top 10 pharma companies spend a total of more than $70 billion a year on research, and many don't feel they've been getting full value for their money.

Astellas is restructuring R&D despite forecasting a major increase in profits as its prostate cancer drug Xtandi gains traction in the growing market. Just days ago, though, Astellas and its partner Aveo ($AVEO) were handed a setback when an FDA panel voted against an approval for tivozanib.

- here's the press release
- see the story from Newsday

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