ImmunityBio backslides while Rigel and Amneal also reveal job cuts
Published: Oct 11, 2022
By Alex Keown
Ten months after taking over a state-of-the-art facility in New York that was expected to expand the company’s manufacturing footprint, ImmunityBio announced job cuts at the site.
Patrick Soon-Shiong’s ImmunityBio will lay off 38 employees at the Dunkirk site due to “economic” reasons, according to a WARN notice filed with the state of New York. The cuts began Sept. 29 and are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
In January, ImmunityBio acquired the Dunkirk site from Athenex, Inc., which was in the process of scaling down operations following failure to win approval of a metastatic breast cancer treatment.
Under terms of the deal with Athenex, ImmunityBio assumed responsibility for the investment and employment commitments made by Athenex with the state of New York in 2016 when it invested in the property. How or if the layoffs will impact that deal remains unknown at this point.
A spokesperson for ImmunityBio told BioSpace the company conducted an in-depth review of the Dunkirk facility and determined the site “has construction needs” that are expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. The needs will enable the site to be used as intended.
“For this reason, we will need fewer employees during the construction period,” the spokesperson, who declined to be named, said.
When ImmunityBio took over the Dunkirk site in January, the company announced it gained a 400,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art, finish-fill and lyophilization facility. The site was expected to be able to provide 1 billion doses of RNA and adjuvant vaccine production. ImmunityBio also noted it gained clean rooms that can expedite the large-scale manufacture of self-amplifying RNA and second-generation DNA COVID-19 vaccine platforms.
ImmunityBio also intended further investments in the plant to add “state-of-the-art biological manufacturing equipment and transferring technology” that will allow it to produce COVID-19 vaccine substance by the fourth quarter of this year, the company announced at the time.
ImmunityBio isn’t the only company to announce job cuts.
Amneal to Close Long Island Plant
Amneal Pharmaceuticals is shuttering a facility in Long Island, N.Y. The first 13 employees at the site have already been notified of their termination, which will be effective before the end of the year, according to a WARN notice filed with the state Sept. 28.
The Long Island facility currently employs 89 individuals. After the 13 depart, the company said the remaining 76 employees are expected to continue working at the site through March of next year when the plant will be closed.
Amneal has been on a roll this year with two biosimilar drugs approved by the FDA. The company won approval for Releuko (filgrastim-ayow), a filgrastim biosimilar referencing Amgen’s Neupogen. It also received the green light for Alymsys (bevacizumab-maly), a biosimilar to Genentech’s Avastin.
Rigel Culls 30 Employees
Following guidance from the FDA, Bay Area-based Rigel Pharmaceuticals will not file a supplemental New Drug Application for fostamatinib as a potential treatment for patients with warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia (wAIHA). The company will continue to explore options for this program, it announced Monday.
At the same time, Rigel reported it will cut its headcount by 16%, eliminating 30 positions. The jobs being eliminated are primarily in development and administration, the company announced.
Raul Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of Rigel, called the cuts an appropriate action that will enable the company to focus on near-term opportunities with its fostamatinib, olutasidenib and IRAK 1/4 programs.
The job cuts are expected to reduce annual operating expenses by $7 million, Rigel noted in its announcement. The company will pay out about $1.5 million in severance.