Shire will cut UK R&D to focus on rare diseases

Shire Pharmaceutcals has begun an employee consultation process as it seeks to discontinue a significant proportion of research and development activities at its historic UK base in Basingstoke. The move is part of an ongoing restructuring plan that will see the company focus on treatments for rare diseases.

The Basingstoke site employs around 170 researchers, but many of the research programmes they are engaged in fall outside of Shire’s new target areas, and will be halted. The company has not yet confirmed how many will lose their jobs. The site will continue to provide corporate and support functions in the UK.

Meanwhile, Shire has agreed to pay $4.2 billion (£2.6 billion) for rare disease specialists ViroPharma. The deal brings Shire a clutch of drugs, including Cinryze (C1 esterase inhibitor [human]) for prophylactic treatment of hereditary angioedema (HAE). Shire’s own HAE drug, Firazyr (icatibant), can be used to treat acute attacks of the disease, so the two treatments are complementary.

The deal also includes treatments for adrenal insufficiency and seizures in children and infants, as well as several candidates in Phase II clinical trials.

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