NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. is relocating its headquarters from New Haven, Connecticut, to Boston and cutting 20 percent of its global workforce, the company said Tuesday.
About 400 jobs will move to Boston by the middle of next year, though the company will maintain a research and development center in New Haven with about 450 employees, it said. Alexion makes drugs to treat rare diseases.
The cuts amount to about 600 positions, and the closure of a Smithfield, Rhode Island, manufacturing facility.
Alexion said the moves are expected to save about $270 million annually and allow the reinvestment of about $100 million a year into research and development.
"By streamlining our operations we will create a leaner organization with greater financial flexibility that is highly focused on delivering for patients, growing our rare disease business, and both leveraging our leadership in complement and pursuing disciplined business development to expand the pipeline," CEO Ludwig Hantson said in a statement.
Alexion's most high-profile drug is Soliris, a treatment for two rare genetic immune system disorders that has been called the world's most expensive drug. It can cost up to $700,000 annually, according to a May story in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Alexion decided to move to Boston despite $26 million in economic development aid from Connecticut meant to jump-start the state's biotechnology sector.
"It's important that we are in an ecosystem where biotech is front and center," Hantson said on a conference call. "Needless to say we will have a larger talent pool of people who have biotech experience" in Massachusetts.
The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development called the news "disappointing" and said it would ask for the money back, with penalties and interest.
Commissioner Catherine Smith told The Hartford Courant that Alexion officials assured her they will refund the $26 million, with interest and penalties. A letter to Smith from Hantson on Monday acknowledged the repayment.
The Rhode Island Commerce Corp. and the state Department of Labor and Training said in a joint statement that the plant closure was disappointing and the agencies would work together to find new jobs for displaced employees.
Alexion is the latest of several major companies to leave Connecticut, including insurer Aetna Inc., which will move to New York City next year, and General Electric, which moved to Boston last year.