Alexion announces it will close RI manufacturing facility

Alexion announces it will close RI manufacturing facility

SMITHFIELD – Just one year after breaking ground at the site of what was supposed to be an expanded facility, global pharmaceutical company Alexion announced Tuesday morning that it would be closing its Rhode Island manufacturing facility off Route 7 in Smithfield.

In a Sep.12 press release, Alexion announced that it would instead be "focusing manufacturing at other sites in the U.S. and Ireland as well as manufacturing capacity through our contract partners."

"We recognize that these changes are difficult for our employees in Rhode Island," the statement continues, "however, they are necessary to support our future business. While our Rhode Island facility has been a key manufacturing site for supplying Soliris to our patients over the last 10 years, the facility is not optimally suited to accommodate our future pipeline," the statement reads.

Alexion, which focuses on developing life-transforming therapies for patients with rare diseases, has been at its current Smithfield location since 2006.

The Alexion facility currently employs more than 300 people and announced last year that it intended to expand the facility from 87,500 square feet to 193,000 square feet – doubling its size and capacity – with new offices, science labs, and warehouse.

The expansion was expected to take five years to complete at a cost of $200 million.

At the time, Alexion CEO David Hallal said the expansion demonstrated a commitment to Rhode Island.

"This expansion demonstrates our commitment to continue producing highly innovative and life-transforming therapies in Rhode Island, as we serve an increasing number of patients around the world suffering with devastating and rare disorders," Hallal said.

In response to the announcement, Sen. Stephen Archambault of Smithfield released a statement expressing his disappointment, “It was very disheartening to hear that Alexion, which employs 250 workers at their Smithfield site, will be closing its facility,” Archambault said. “This is particularly devastating when you consider that not a single job will remain in Rhode Island, as the company is moving all its manufacturing to other sites. I have been told that the Department of Labor and Training will do all it can to assist the employees who are affected by this move. My heart goes out to all of them and their families. Alexion has been a tremendous economic asset to Smithfield and Rhode Island, and their leaving will surely be felt by the local and state economy.”