Alexion closing RI manufacturing facility

Alexion closing RI manufacturing facility

SMITHFIELD – One year after breaking ground at the site of what was supposed to be an expanded facility, global pharmaceutical company Alexion announced Tuesday morning that it would be closing its Rhode Island manufacturing facility in Smithfield.

Alexion, which focuses on developing life-transforming therapies for patients with rare diseases, has been at its current Smithfield location since 2006.

The Smithfield site, which employs approximately 250 people, will be closed in a “phased manner” at the end of 2017 and concluding in June 2018, according to the company’s director of corporate communication, Amanda Fahey.

“We recognize that these changes are difficult for our employees. We will continue to work with Governor Raimondo and will support employees during this transition. Employees are eligible for severance as well as access to Career Transition Services and the Employee Assistance Program,” Fahey said.

Alexion announced last year that it intended to expand the facility from 87,500 square feet to 193,000 square feet – doubling its size and capacity – with new offices, science labs, and warehouse.

The expansion was expected to take five years to complete at a cost of $200 million.

Instead of moving forward with that plan, Fahey said the construction project will be “completed to a scope of activities in line with placing the property on the market by June 2018.”

At the time of the 2016 expansion announcement, Alexion CEO David Hallal said the company was committed to growing in Rhode Island.

“This expansion demonstrates our commitment to continue producing highly innovative and life-transforming therapies in Rhode Island, as we serve an increasing number of patients around the world suffering with devastating and rare disorders,” Hallal said.

The expansion was also expected to create more than 400 local construction jobs.

But in a Sept.12 press release, Alexion announced that it would instead be “focusing manufacturing at other sites in the U.S. and Ireland as well as manufacturing capacity through our contract partners.”

“We recognize that these changes are difficult for our employees in Rhode Island,” the statement continues, “however, they are necessary to support our future business. While our Rhode Island facility has been a key manufacturing site for supplying Soliris to our patients over the last 10 years, the facility is not optimally suited to accommodate our future pipeline.”