Novartis to close gene therapy plant

March 26, 2021

Novartis announced it will lay off approximately 400 staffers and leave its 692,000-square-foot drug-making facility in Longmont, Colorado just 14 months after it reopened the site.

Novartis’ gene therapy subsidiary AveXis bought the site from AstraZeneca in 2019 for $30 million. The plant was opened in January 2020, primarily to produce between 800 to 1,200 doses of its spinal muscular atrophy drug, Zolgensma. Currently the world's most expensive drug with a price tag of $2.1 million per dose, the one-time intravenous injection combats the effects of SMA, a rare, genetic disorder that prevents newborns from developing the strength in their backs needed to move body parts unassisted.

Novartis plans to close the six-building complex by July 9 at the latest. The approximately 400 staffers at the site will be offered severance packages, job-placement support and some benefits.

The drugmaker had anticipated needing the facility to fulfill its expected demand alongside its sister plants in Libertyville, Illinois, and Durham, North Carolina — but now says that based on the "evolving dynamics of the gene therapy landscape" and "process improvements" only two commercial sites are needed.

Read the coverage from the Longmont Times-Call