Company news: Genzyme; Bayer; AstraZenecaSanofi's Genzyme subsidiary announced Wednesday that it has submitted Lemtrada (alemtuzumab),its drug for relapsing MS, to the FDA and European regulators for review. The company's clinical trials tracked patients who were new to therapy and experienced relapses while taking Lemtrada. The drug stands out in part because it is injected annually, as opposed to daily treatments, like Gilenya (Fingolimod) and Copaxone (Glatiramer) and Tysabri (Natalizumab), which are among the five general treatments that are used to manage the progressive disease. Multiple sclerosis is the result of the degeneration of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves, and is thought to be an autoimmune disease. Symptoms include partial or complete blindness, numbness, tremor and an electric shock sensation, among others, according to Mayo Clinic. Lemtrada was created with Bayer.
Bayer named Philip Blake to lead US operations. Blake becomes senior Bayer representative as the firm contemplates moving its headquarters functions from Robinson, PA to Whippany, NJ, where Blake is based. The company hasn't indicated when a decision will be made, but estimates it could affect about 10% of the 2,700 employees in the Pittsburgh area. Blake takes over from Greg Babe who is retiring. Blake's previous senior posts include heading up Canadian subsidiary Bayer, Inc. and leading Bayer Healthcare in Canada. He has been with the company for more than 30 years.
AstraZeneca's plant in Sodertalje, Sweden will house 400 fewer employees, reported the Local. The news source noted that these layoffs are not new cuts – the company told the publication that the 400 jobs were part of the 1,100 layoffs that were announced in February. The Local said the job cuts affect a variety of positions, including lawyers and personnel, but the majority of the 400 jobs are among employees who maintain labs and machines.