Virus Forces Genzyme to Shut Plant

Genzyme is being forced to temporarily close its Boston manufacturing facility due to a viral infection, the company announced Tuesday morning.
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Updated from 11:08 a.m. EDT

Biotech firm

Genzyme

(GENZ)

is being forced to shut down temporarily its Boston manufacturing facility due to a viral infection in one of the bioreactors where drugs are made, the company announced Tuesday morning.

The manufacturing plant is being sanitized to eliminate the virus found in one of six of the facility's bioreactors. Genzyme said it expects the facility to be operational again by the end of July, but the shut-down will create supply shortages of two of the company's key drugs, Cerezyme and Fabryzme.

Genzyme did not quantify the financial impact of the plant's temporary closure.

Genzyme shares fell 5% to $55.62 Monday after company executives cancelled a series of meetings with European investors without explanation. Speculation spread through the market yesterday that Genzyme might be making an acquisition or that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was delaying approval once again of Lumizyme, another of Genzyme's drugs.

Genzyme shares were down 5% to $52.85 in recent trading.

The virus strain found to be infecting Genzyme's manufacturing plant is known as Vesivirus 2117. It does not cause human infection but is known to interfere with the growth of cells used to produce biologic drugs and was likely introduced through a nutrient used in the manufacturing process, the company said.

The viral infection was discovered over the weekend, at which time regulators here and in Europe were notified, the company said.

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