AstraZeneca is laying off more than 200 employees in Boulder and Longmont.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's website published AstraZeneca's notice to shut down operations resulting in the loss of jobs, in accordance with the Worker Readjustment and Retraining Notification Act that requires employers to provide employees experiencing employment loss with a 60-day notice before a layoff.
AstraZeneca spokeswoman Michele L. Meixell confirmed the layoffs via an email. "Approximately 210 employees are impacted and those employees will exit the organization (March 22) with full decommissioning of the facilities to be completed by fourth quarter 2019. We will work with employees on a one-on-one basis to assess opportunities, including other potential roles within the organization," she wrote.
The closure of Boulder and Longmont operations is about consolidating "the biologics manufacturing network in one large-scale drug substance facility" in Frederick, Md., to improve efficiency in company's global biologics supply chain, Meixell said. Neither Boulder or Longmont are currently licensed for commercial operations, she clarified. But both "were due to form part of our global biologics supply chain," she added.
Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council, called the closure unfortunate. "We're very concerned about the impact of this decision on the employees," he said.
"We didn't see it coming. But all tech is volatile," Harald said. The drugs and medical devices industry, like any other sector in the tech industry, can rise and fall. "It isn't a complete surprise, but it wasn't expected," he said.
He said he hopes the local AstraZeneca employees can find jobs within the greater Denver area, which is home to more than 700 biosciences companies employing over 16,000 people. "They are hiring and growing," Harald said.
AstraZeneca purchased the former Amgen facility in Boulder in 2015 for $14.6 million. In early 2017, AstraZeneca site director Darren Dasburg was quoted in a Daily Camera story that the facility was to produce the bladder cancer drug duravalumab.
The company also purchased the 70-acre Longmont Amgen campus in 2016 for $64.5 million to support Boulder operations.
In 2017, Dasburg told the Boulder Economic Council about the importance of Boulder for his business. He was a quoted as saying: "We received 1,000 top-quality resumes for 250 jobs in Boulder. We'll eventually have another 400 to 500 jobs in Longmont. CU, CSU and the School of Mines are all feeding us great talent."
The closure of local facilities follows the organizational changes at UK-based AstraZeneca PLC earlier this week. The changes were announced in a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing mentions the company hired José Baselga to head its research and development unit for oncology, and appointed Mene Pangalos, who was previously responsible for the company's Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit, to lead BioPharmaceuticals research and development unit. Ruud Dobber, who until recently looked after AstraZeneca's commercial operations in North America, took over the commercial unit for BioPharmaceuticals.
The changes will support continued scientific innovation and commercial success in the main therapy areas, according to the filing.
A Wall Street Journal report identified Baselga as "a prominent but controversial cancer doctor." Baselga failed to disclose his ties with the drug companies in academic journal articles, the WSJ reported.
Meixell said the plans to shut down Boulder and Longmont operations are not related to the recent organizational changes.
Pratik Joshi: 303-684-5310, email@example.com