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Astellas Pharma is moving work to Japan

Long-term future of Grand Island firm in doubt

News Business Reporter
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John Hickey/Buffalo News
The Grand Island plant makes a prescription ointment for eczema.


Astellas Pharma said it will gradually move out manufacturing of the only product it makes at its Grand Island plant, leaving questions about the site's long-term future.

Astellas Pharma, whose local plant was formerly part of Fujisawa Healthcare, said it is shifting production of Protopic to Toyama, Japan. The transfer is expected to take up to three years to complete, said Maribeth Landwehr, a company spokeswoman.

The Grand Island site makes Protopic, a prescription ointment used to treat eczema, for all markets except Japan. "The decision for the transfer of production is one component of an overall strategy within Astellas to establish more efficient operations," Landwehr said in a written response to questions.

Astellas Pharma Manufacturing's Grand Island site has 105 permanent employees, she said. The company is based in Japan and has U.S. headquarters in Deerfield, Ill.

Asked about the Grand Island plant's long-range prospects in light of the product transfer, Landwehr said that "further information regarding the future of the facility is not available."

The company's name changed last year, following a merger of Fujisawa Pharmaceutical and Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical in April 2005.

Peter McMahon, Grand Island's town supervisor, said he did not have further details of Astellas' plans. He noted that the company and its forerunner had made substantial investments in new office and production space at its location Staley Road in the past several years.

Last week, Astellas was one of three top-level sponsors of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year awards program. "They're a great corporate citizen," McMahon said. "They sponsor any number of charitable events."

Fujisawa, prior to the merger that produced Astellas, had announced plans in 2004 for another expansion of the Grand Island plant that was to allow for additional product lines.

Current details of that expansion plan were not available Monday. The company last year had started the process for requesting incentives through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, but did not complete that process.

The New York Power Authority at the time of the expansion announcement allocated low-cost power in support of the project, which was expected to create 30 jobs at the company.