ImClone, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly, has closed a manufacturing facility at its site in Branchburg, NJ, as originally reported by MyCentralJersey.com and confirmed by BioPharm International. Approximately 140 jobs will be cut as a result.
The closed facility, referred to as BB36, was used to manufacture Erbitux (cetuximab), a monoclonal antibody for colorectal and head and neck cancer. Janice Chavers, a Lilly spokesperson, said the decision to close the facility was not driven by Lilly's larger restructuring effort.
"The facility was idled based on internal and external factors related to Erbitux, including ImClone's existing inventory and further investments that would be needed to continue manufacturing Erbitux in that building," she said.
Going forward, all manufacturing of Erbitux for sale in the US will take place at BB50, another large-scale facility at the same ImClone campus in Branchburg, NJ. Erbitux has been manufactured at the BB50 plant since 2007 and will now be the sole manufacturing facility in the US. Merck KGaA is responsible for the manufacture and sale of Erbitux outside the US and Canada.
With a production capacity of 110,000 L , BB50 is one of the largest biologic manufacturing capacities existing in the world. Manufacturing operations there are supported by a staff of approximately 820, said Chavers.
Chavers added that the 140 employees losing their jobs would have the opportunity to apply for approximately 90 open positions within ImClone, and would be given priority over internal and external hires. Employees who are not hired for a new job within the company will receive a severance package.
ImClone had approximately 1,250 employees when it was acquired by Lilly in November 2008. That number had grown to 1,350 by the time of the idling of the plant.