June 17, 2009

Genzyme halts drug production amid scare

Officials with Genzyme Corp. say the biotechnology company has ceased production of two drugs following the discovery of a virus at a Boston plant.

Officials said the virus found in production equipment at the Genzyme plant could potentially taint two drugs for rare genetic disorders, but is not harmful to humans, The Boston Globe said Thursday.

While Genzyme officials insist the company's inventory of Cerezyme and Fabrazyme was not compromised by the virus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to review the situation.

The plant in Boston's Allston neighborhood will also undergo a decontamination to remove the discovered virus, the Globe said.

Currently, an estimated 8,000 people use Cerezyme and Fabrazyme worldwide at an annual cost per patient of nearly $200,000.

Geoff McDonough, head of the company's genetic disease business unit, said the halt in production of the medications would mean the company's remaining stock of products will have to be rationed to those individuals.