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Danish Biogen director after factory sale: "It's a peaceful goodbye"

Biogen Denmark's business will continue as usual although the company has said goodbye to 800 employees with the divestment of its manufacturing site outside Copenhagen, says Managing Director Janne Harder.

The Danish unit of US biotech giant Biogen will become remarkably smaller when the company sells its production facilities north of Copenhagen to Japanese Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in August.

The approximately 800 factory staff members will continue to work for Fujifilm, which leaves Biogen Denmark with only 25 employees to handle sales, marketing, launches side effect reporting, advising and service functions.

This work will continue despite the factory sale, says Janne Harder, Managing Director at Biogen Denmark.

"We were technically split into two units, and the factory was a whole different branch. So, the fact that we don't have a factory actually doesn't affect us," she says to MedWatch.

Harder stresses that all employees in the factory have been offered to keep their jobs under Fujifilm's ownership so to her an her colleagues, the sale has been undramatic.

"It's a peaceful goodbye. Nobody was fired and there were no cuts," she says.

Growing profit

In 2018, Biogen Denmark - excluding the factory - had a revenue of DKK 355 million (USD 53.81 million) and generated a profit of DKK 12.5 million (USD 1.89 million). It was equal to an increase by respectively 1.5 percent and 37.4 percent relative to the previous year.

According to Harder, the growth is especially due to biosimilar drugs. In October 2018, Biogen launched a biosimilar version of the world's best selling drug, Humira, in Denmark.

One of Biogen Denmark's most important future tasks will be to expand the use of the spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) treatment, Spinraza. Biogen obtained approval of the drug for a certain group of children in May 2018 after a long dispute with the Danish Medicines Council.

"At the moment, we are working to expand the approval for type 2 and 3 SMA children, who currently don't receive treatment, and of course we will also work to obtain approval of Spinraza for adults," says Harder, adding:

"It's a long process. We have to collect the data the Medicines Council demands and we have to consider prices - how can we match what the Danish state is willing to pay with the pricing in the rest of Europe."

Moreover, the 25 remaining employees in Biogen Denmark are to continue to handle important marketing, reporting and service tasks.

"That's what the people in the US keep an eye on and expect from us," says the managing director.

In 2018, Biogen had a global revenue of USD 13.5 billion.

English Edit: Ida Løjmand

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