WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11) applauded an announcement by Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) Pharmaceuticals—the parent company of Ben Venue Laboratories—that it has found a permanent manufacturer for its Bedford facility. The news followed months of efforts by Brown and Fudge urging the company to do everything in its power to find a buyer that would continue manufacturing in Bedford. As a result, local jobs will be protected and people undergoing treatment for conditions such as cancer will have greater access to life saving drugs.
“This is excellent news for the health of citizens across the country as well as the economy of Bedford and Northeast Ohio,” Brown said. “A permanent buyer for the Bedford facility means cancer patients can receive the lifesaving drugs they need. It also means that Bedford citizens can continue to work and provide for their families. I thank Ben Venue and BI for their commitment to working with the Bedford community on finding a solution. For 80 years, the city of Bedford has been loyal to Ben Venue and BI. Today, its dedication was rewarded.”
“This is a great development for the city of Bedford, the people of Northeast Ohio, and the nation,” Fudge said. “Instead of an empty plant and more people out of work, we all look forward to Hikma Pharmaceuticals retaining manufacturing jobs at the Ben Venue facilities in Bedford and ensuring no disruption in the supply of a life-saving drug for those who need it. I joined in the effort to facilitate negotiations that would keep lines of communication open between the city, federal agencies and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (BI), Ben Venue’s parent owner. I congratulate BI and Hikma for working diligently to reach a timely agreement that best serves their needs while meeting the needs of patients who rely the cancer-fighting drug “Doxil” and keeping jobs in the community.”
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. Following Ben Venue’s October announcement, Brown and Fudge participated in a meeting between Bedford city officials and management from Ben Venue. 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.
In January 2014, Brown called on Paul Fonteyne, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BI, to continue to work towards finding a permanent manufacturer for its 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 could help this process come to a positive resolution for BI, the city of Bedford, and patients who rely on the drugs made in Bedford.
Also in January, Brown 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”), which is a cancer-fighting drug used in chemotherapy that is made at the Bedford facility. Two months later, the FDA approved a crucial, temporary agreement that has allowed prescription drug maker Johnson and Johnson (J&J) to lease portions of the facility and continue producing Doxil while retaining Bedford jobs.
Brown continued to fight for a permanent solution throughout the spring. In April, he sent a follow-up letter to the FDA and met with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg encouraging the FDA to continue doing everything in its power to keep Doxil manufacturing in the U.S. and support the Bedford facility as BI worked to find a successor. Following the announcement of the sale of the assets comprising Bedford Laboratories in May, Brown again called on Fonteyne to emphasize his interest in finding a permanent manufacturer that would retain jobs at the Bedford facility.
As a result of these and other likeminded efforts, BI announced today that Hikma Pharmaceuticals would acquire the Bedford facility with the goal of partially reactivating its manufacturing. Not only will this help protect the jobs of local citizens, but it also will ensure that Doxil will continue to be produced.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals purchased the licenses to manufacture 84 drugs that have been made at Bedford, as well as the facilities. Their plan is to keep manufacturing in Bedford. In June 2014, Brown communicated with Michael Raya, the CEO of West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, Hikma’s U.S. subsidiary, to offer support in clearing the way for this sale to go forward. With the addition of the Bedford operations, the company will become the largest U.S. maker of generic injectable drugs, according to Hikma officials.