Biogen Idec Whacks Idec, Its San Diego Wing

Massachusetts-based biotech Biogen Idec today (Nov. 3) severed Idec, its San Diego operation. The two companies merged in 2003. Biogen Idec is under pressure from billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, who has three of his cronies on the company's board. Idec was one of San Diego's few strong biotech successes, having pioneered Rituxan, a top-sellig drug for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. Biogen Idec will close the San Diego facility and shift the U.S. sales and marketing of Rituxan to another company. According to the North County Times, there are 327 employees in San Diego. Most will be out the door Jan. 10 and 25% will be offered the opportunity to go to the Cambridge headquarters or the Research Triangle in North Carolina. This is a big blow for San Diego's economy.


Now if a certain San Diego family with megabucks was interested in making more megabucks in a way that did not involve new stadium construction, then the ramrod family member should be seeing opportunities here. Big Pharma-sized opportunities...

There is a trend where biotech companies spring up that only manage drug research, development and production. Their labs are leased. Later, after trials prove that the drug just might heal more people than it harms, they then lease plant and equipment to produce and distribute. If successful, they just might buy the plant and equipment and possibly even expand.

The undergraduate minds at UCSD, USD, and SDSU are a terrible thing to waste.

If we are losing a company, then somebody smart and rather wealthy could step up and fill the void, if that somebody was thinking about the future...

Response to post #1: Trouble is, the Idec assassination has been completed. Idec's main product will be marketed by Genentech. Only one-fourth of the employees have a chance to stay with the parent. The corporate motto these days, to quote Shakespeare, is "If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly." When will Main Street wake up and storm Wall Street? Best, Don Bauder

Isn't this the typical pattern for a local bio-tech startup, especially one in the drug field? If it fails jobs are lost. If it comes up with something, a rarity, that really works, some bigger outfit buys it up and either dismembers it or moves it away. And jobs are lost.

SD just cannot win most of the time, and all the growth spawned by these startups ends up elsewhere.

Response to post #3: You make a good point. Massachusetts and the Bay Area have more venture capital and more clout. The big pharmaceutical companies, which are based in many different places, generally join biotechs in joint ventures, and also buy them up completely. The key point is that most biotechs have not been successful from a pharmaceutical standpoint, but most have been successful from a monetary standpoint: the insiders make a bundle of money on the stocks, dumping stock they got for pennies a share, in most cases. Unfortunately, the name of the game to those who form the companies is to put together an IPO, run the stock up, and sell your stock, and hopefully the company. I just wish more San Diego biotechs had been more successful in coming out with drugs. Best, Don Bauder

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