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Sources: OSI drops Westchester move

OSI Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Melville. (July 2009)

OSI Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Melville. (July 2009) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., the Melville-based biotech company that was to anchor an industry on Long Island but rocked the region when it announced last year it planned to move to Westchester County, is expected to remain here, in part, two well-placed sources in the business community said earlier this week.

Update: OSI confirms the decision. More details.

The company, the manufacturer of the anti-lung cancer drug Tarceva, has been in the process of relocating to the village of Ardsley, in Westchester. OSI said it became frustrated in its efforts to expand on Long Island.

Construction of some facilities in Ardsley had been taking place, but some of the work was halted in recent weeks.

The Long Island business sources said OSI is expected to retain about 100 jobs at a facility at the Broadhollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State University. It is still expected to close its Melville headquarters building. The company has about 350 U.S. employees, including about 200 at its Melville headquarters.

OSI officials could not be reached for comment.

Long Island business and political officials had been trying for months to keep OSI from leaving. In June, incoming Long Island Association president Kevin Law headed up a group that included Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Suffolk Executive Steve Levy, Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray and Brookhaven supervisor Mark Lesko, in sending a letter to Masafumi Nogimori, chief executive of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma.
Astellas Pharma had acquired OSI in May for $4 billion.

“We are hopeful that your company’s acquisition of OSI presents a new opportunity for discussions regarding available sites for Astellas to locate on Long Island,” the letter said.

One of the Long Island business sources said that Island officials had a conference call with Astellas executives last week. “I think it helped,” the source said.

Astellas did not return calls for comment.

OSI’s troubles with Long Island began several years ago, when the company wanted to expand at the Bioscience Park. But State Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick), objected, saying OSI would be leasing and building on state property without any public bid.

OSI chief executive Colin Goddard said at the time that “we have recognized that we will only truly capture the full strategic value of our oncology franchise if we simplify our business by bringing together all their elements.”

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