ImmunityBio lays off some workers

When California-based ImmunityBio Inc. announced in January that it would take over the lease of Athenex’s $200 million state-funded pharmaceutical factory in Dunkirk, it expected to begin producing its Covid-19 at the facility by the end of 2022. Vaccine APIs.

Now that seems unlikely, as ImmunityBio recently laid off an undisclosed number of workers in Dunkirk and said the facility needs improvement.

“ImmunityBio remains committed to the Dunkirk, New York area and large manufacturing facility,” Chief Communications Officer Sarah Singleton said in a statement. “After an in-depth review, we have determined that the current facility in Dunkirk may take approximately 12-18 months for the facility to be used as intended.

“As a result, we will need fewer staff during construction,” she said. “However, dismissed employees may reapply when vacancies become available.”

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Chautauqua Industrial Development Authority chief executive Mark Geise said he had heard of nearly 40 layoffs. This is in line with a report by The Observer on Thursday, citing an unnamed employee.

Is California biotech leased for state's $200 million Dunkirk plant?

California-based ImmunityBio announced Tuesday that it has completed the acquisition of a lease for the state-funded Dunkirk manufacturing plant built for Athenex. Here’s what you should know in the coming months.

ImmunityBio, a clinical-stage biotechnology company, completed a $40 million acquisition in mid-February of a leasehold interest in a 409,000-square-foot facility in Dunkirk originally built for Buffalo-based Athenex Inc. The company, a founding biopharmaceutical company, is now considering delisting from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

The entrance to ImmunityBio, by billionaire biotech entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong was welcomed by community officials earlier this year. They argue that the company’s arrival at least gives taxpayers a better chance of earning a return on their investment from the era of controversial New York economic development policies that opted to use public funds to build state-owned factories that would then be leased to future companies.

Geise said the news was frustrating, especially given all the delays while Athenex held the lease. But he remains optimistic about ImmunityBio, which he said has spent “considerable money” to prepare the plant and order equipment.

“I still feel like they’ll deliver,” he said, “and in the long run, everything will be fine.”

'Our star factory': California biotech billionaire has big plans for state-funded Dunkirk pharma

Buffalo-based biopharmaceutical company Athenex has announced a deal that has a major impact on the state-funded $200 million drugmaker in Dunkirk.

In the transaction, ImmunityBio assumed Athenex’s recruitment and investment obligations in Dunkirk. That includes spending $1.52 billion on operating expenses during the initial 10-year lease period that began last October. ImmunityBio must also employ 450 people at the Dunkirk facility during the first five years of operation, including 300 during the first 2.5 years.

When the deal closed in February, more than 50 Athenex employees joined ImmunityBio, and the company plans to hire more workers.

For ImmunityBio, the Dunkirk facility is its largest manufacturing facility. As of this year, the plan is for ImmunityBio to also provide Athenex with contract manufacturing space at its Dunkirk facility.

Listed ImmunityBio has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in financing from its executive chairman Soon-Shiong to advance the development of its various drug candidates. By the nature of the business, ImmunityBio has a history of operating losses, with an operating loss of $175.5 million for the first six months of 2022, compared to $172 million a year earlier.

Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or him on twitter @ByJonHarris.

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