WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ben Venue Laboratories’ parent company to continue to work towards finding a permanent manufacturer for its Bedford facility. During his conversation with Paul Fonteyne, U.S. CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) Pharmaceuticals, Brown urged the company not to withdraw from Bedford in a manner that would prioritize profit margin at the expense of combating shortages of life saving drugs, protecting local jobs, and rewarding the city for its 80 years of loyalty. This week, BI closed bidding on the facility.
“For 80 years, the city of Bedford has been loyal to Ben Venue and its parent company, Boehringer Ingelheim.” Brown said. “During these 80 years, the Bedford facility has played a vital role in saving lives and employing thousands. With current drug shortages and the need for manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio, BI should do the responsible thing by selling the facility to a permanent drug manufacturer.”
In October 2013, Ben Venue—under the auspices of BI, a German-based drug company—announced that it would stop production by the end of 2013 and phase out jobs through 2014. Since the announcement, Brown has continued the fight to keep prescription drug manufacturing at the Bedford facility. During his conversation with Fonteyne, Brown expressed his desire for BI to withdraw from Bedford responsibly, by giving priority to proposals that aim to keep manufacturing at the facility, which would help save lives and save jobs. In order to accomplish this goal, Brown asked how he can help this process come to a positive resolution for BI, the city of Bedford, and patients who rely on the drugs made in Bedford.
Earlier this month, Brown also urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue to work towards keeping the Bedford laboratory open—and share its long-term strategy of utilizing laboratories like Bedford’s to fight domestic drug shortages. According to the Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), there is a shortage of Doxorubicin (or “Doxil”), a cancer-fighting drug used in chemotherapy that is made at the Bedford facility. A crucial, temporary agreement was recently reached that would enable a prescription drug maker, Johnson and Johnson (J&J), to lease portions of the facility and continue producing Doxil while retaining Bedford jobs. Brown continues to fight for a permanent solution.
Following Ben Venue’s October announcement, Brown participated in a meeting between Bedford city officials, management from Ben Venue, and U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11). During the meeting, Ben Venue agreed to work in close coordination with the city of Bedford in order to help find a buyer for its facility, and agreed to weekly meetings with local officials.