First AbbVie chopped a PhIII, then they wrote off $4B in book value. Now 178 Stemcentrx workers are getting the ax

AbbVie is steadily chopping away at the people and programs they brought into the company with their big $10 billion Stemcentrx buyout deal. 

Back in early January AbbVie wiped $4 billion off the book value of their Stemcentrx assets, a big chunk of the $5.8 billion they spent upfront to get the company and its cancer drug Rova-T. That followed a move to shutter an ongoing trial after researchers spotted a higher risk of death in the drug arm. And now comes news that AbbVie is laying off 178 Stemcentrx workers in South San Francisco, where they’ve been building a big new R&D hub for the company.

Stemcentrx staffers had been bound for the Gateway of Pacific, a 1.4 million square foot campus under construction by BioMed Realty. AbbVie leased about a third of that space.

There’s no immediate word if anyone in the Stemcentrx group will be left as the layoffs go through. The WARN notice was received by California officials March 20, with an April 5 effective date, so the ax is dropping fast.

Analysts had been skeptical about this deal early on, wondering why AbbVie would buy a biotech unicorn with the iffy data that had been seen to that point. Now AbbVie execs tend to avoid public comment on Rova-T, preferring to spell out its dwindling hopes in required regulatory filings. They are much more expansive about other late-stage assets as they line up approvals on two key programs for risankizumab and up — both prospective blockbusters.

I reached out to AbbVie with some questions but as of late Thursday the company — as usual — had nothing to say.


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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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