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‘It’s Happened Before:’ Biz Leaders React to Biogen Idec’s San Diego Shutdown

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what’s going on in the life sciences in San Diego right now.” Based on venture investments over the past year, he said that “life sciences overall has really been the only sector that’s been above water” and growing.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that even with Idec, Biogen Idec failed to meet expectations that it would grow into an incredible biotechnology powerhouse, after the likes of Amgen and Genentech, which were set in 2003.

As Xconomy’s Ryan McBride reports today, George Scangos inherited a company that has not brought a new product to market since 2004. After taking over less than four months ago, Scangos told Ryan the company was stretched too thin. A major part of the restructuring plan is to divest the company’s cancer and cardiovascular drug pipelines. As part of that, the company has designated 11 programs that it plans to remove from its pipeline, including its molecule galiximab for lymphoma and the anti-tumor drug volocixiumab.

Beyond the anti-cancer drug Rituxan, which was approved by the FDA in 1997, the legacy Idec group in San Diego didn’t make as much of a contribution to the oncology drug pipeline as Biogen had expected. There also was a lot of management turnover at Biogen’s San Diego operation, which suggests that the Idec and Biogen employees didn’t mix as well as expected either.

Biogen Idec’s San Diego research and corporate center, which was intended to serve as Idec Pharmaceuticals corporate headquarters, already has changed hands, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which reports the 43-acre campus off Nobel Drive in University City was sold last month to Alexandria Real Estate Equities. The Biogen Idec complex was built in 2004 for $170 million.

As Connect CEO Duane Roth put it in an e-mail, Biogen Idec’s decision is “disappointing, but it seems to be a strategic business decision to narrow their discovery focus. I’m hopeful there will be some opportunities to locally license some of their cancer programs.”

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  • Plodna

    Idec Pharmaceuticals bought Biogen – not the other way around. Genentech sued arguing that there had been a change in control of the company to get ownership of Rituxan but Biogen Idec successfully argued in court that it was still Idec Pharmaceuticals with only a name change to reflect the merger. The balance of power has clearly been the reverse though.

  • Thanks for this.

  • It’s a shame they didn’t offer a transfer. Most probably wouldn’t move away from S.D. but an offer would have been much better considering media relations.

  • Else

    About a quarter of the affected employees have been offered relocation packages.

  • June

    No surprise – our continuing business unfriendly environment, high taxes, over regulation and high real estate costs for both employers and employees are a constant discouragement for expansion.

    I suspect with the incoming Ca. state leadership we will see companies fleeing the state – lured away by more business friendly, affordable cities that welcome corporate growth and reward hiring.