Lonza trouble may trigger big write-down at Ipsen

Trouble flows downstream swiftly when a CMO finds itself in trouble. Just days after Lonza fired its CEO as it finds itself under the microscope after a warning letter from the FDA on one of its plants in Massachusetts, France's Ipsen is warning that it may have to write off up to 180 million euros after seeing supply problems for one of its drugs made at the same facility.

The FDA's concerns had been focused on Lonza's production of an active ingredient for Eisai. But the same plant also produces the active ingredient for Increlex, a growth disorder drug sold by Ipsen. Ipsen also raised questions over the value of Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals as it reassesses sales forecasts. Ipsen owns 40% of Inspiration.

Ipsen, though, appears hopeful that the situation will soon right itself. "The FDA should be carrying out further plant inspection shortly," the company noted in its quarterly release.

The Swiss chemicals company Lonza fired CEO Stefan Borgas a few days ago after the chairman concluded that the company had failed to live up to expectations for several years running. Analysts note that with an expensive facility in Switzerland, Lonza finds itself at a disadvantage with lower-cost Asian suppliers putting pressure on the company.

- read the release from Ipsen (.pdf)
- here's the Dow Jones story on Lonza