Pfizer Sandwich Site To Retain 650 Jobs and Ablynx Agreement Pulled

Pfizer LogoPfizer is planning to retain 650 staff at its Sandwich facility in Kent, roughly 300 more than previously announced.

The BBC reported that 250 employees have relocated to other sites in the UK.  About 800 people have already left their posts at the re-named Sandwich Discovery Park and a further 700 will go by the end of 2012.

In February, Pfizer said the facility, which employed 2,400 people, would close but in June they stated that 350 staff would be retained to support the development of products in the mid- and late- stage pipeline.  In the summer, the company said that the retained presence would help attract new investors and occupants to the site.

Annette Doherty, head of research and site leader, stated that “we hope there will be many other scientific companies that are also here with us and that there’s a diverse set of businesses here at Discovery Park in the future”.

She added that the jobs that will be retained in Sandwich are “critical functions” for the research and development of projects, and that staff will be located in three different buildings on the site, which will be leased from the future owner.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has returned worldwide rights to Ablynx’s TNF-alpha targeting nanobodies following a portfolio review.

The rights returned to the Belgian biotech include those for ATN-103 (ozoralizumab) for rheumatoid arthritis, for which positive Phase II data was presented in May, and for PF-05230905, which is currently in Phase I.  Additionally, Ablynx will obtain “certain Pfizer intellectual property and know-how” relating to the anti-TNF-alpha programmes and gain access to existing clinical trial supplies of the two drugs.

In return, Ablynx will share with Pfizer up to $50 million in future milestone payments it may receive from other third-party deals related to the products, plus royalties on sales.  The Ghent-based group had signed the original agreement with Wyeth in 2006, which was later acquired by Pfizer in 2009.


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