Biogen shutters a biotech shop in the UK as it continues to prune R&D

A little over two years ago, Biogen stepped in to buy Convergence Pharmaceuticals in the UK for $200 million in cash and up to $475 million in milestones, bagging its lead drug for neuropathic pain and a portfolio of ion channel-modulating drugs. And it made a commitment to keeping the company’s operations in the UK.

Until now. I was tipped off that Convergence has been shuttered, and Biogen confirmed it, noting that it is cutting 17 jobs in the process. Here’s the statement:

Last month, in an effort to streamline R&D operations, Biogen decided to close the Convergence site in the UK and locate R&D activities in pain to our offices in Maidenhead, UK, and to our global headquarters in Cambridge, MA (USA).

The move does not represent a change in our commitment to chronic pain. We are continuing to develop BIIB074, a Nav1.7 blocker, and are advancing development activities across multiple peripheral neuropathic pain indications.

Biogen, like many of its peers in biopharma, routinely snips away at any part of its R&D group that can be streamlined. Eight months after it bought Convergence, it also slashed 880 jobs in a wrenching restructuring as its flagship drug Tecfidera began to lose peak sales altitude.

In one sense, it made an unusual choice keeping the group together as long as it did. It’s quite common for companies to chop up the operations they buy.

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