OSI Pharmaceuticals is staying in Melville.  (July 7, 2009)

OSI Pharmaceuticals is staying in Melville. (July 7, 2009) Credit: File

OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., the Melville-based biotech company that rocked the region when it announced last year it planned to move to Westchester County, will remain on Long Island, at least in part, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-area company that now owns OSI said Thursday.

The manufacturer of the lung-cancer drug Tarceva, OSI began 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.

Maribeth Landwehr, a spokeswoman for Astellas U.S. Llc in Deerfield, Ill., whose parent, Astellas Pharma of Toyko, acquired OSI in May for $4 billion, said plans have changed since the acquisition. Now, she said, about 90 OSI jobs will be retained at a facility at the Broadhollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State University.

Astellas still plans to close the OSI headquarters building in Melville, and will not proceed further with plans to move to Ardsley, where there are now about 90 OSI employees. As a result, about 150 OSI positions will be eliminated. The Melville and Ardsley facilities will remain open until next June, Landwehr said. She said the facility at Farmingdale will remain open, "with long-term feasibility to be determined when our integration planning is complete."

Kevin Law, incoming president of the Long Island Association, welcomed the news.

Law said he and other Long Island business and political officials held a conference call with Astellas executives earlier this week, asking them to keep OSI on the Island.

"I think it worked," said Law, now chief executive of the Long Island Power Authority. "We made our best approach to them." Law said that keeping bio-tech firms on Long Island was vital to the region's future.

Long Island officials had been trying for months to keep OSI from leaving. In June, 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 Astellas Pharma, asking them to stay.

OSI wanted to expand at the Bioscience Park. But state Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick), and others said OSI would be leasing and building on state property without any public bid or hearing, as would be required by law.

Thursday, Fuschillo said that he had secured $9 million in state funds to help expand the Bioscience Park and that he will tour the park in the fall with Astellas officials.

OSI chief executive Colin Goddard said at the time 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."

Landwehr said Goddard resigned after the acquisition and has been replaced at OSI by Naoki Okmura.

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