Global pharmaceutical services company Aptuit has acquired GlaxoSmithKline’s Medicines Research Center, the largest R&D facility in Italy, in a deal that assures continued employment for nearly 500 staff members at the site.
The agreement, which went into effect July 1, also calls for Aptuit to supply GSK with R&D services from the facility, although no timeframe or financial terms were disclosed. While GSK will be the facility’s biggest client in the near-term, the company expects to attract new work from other drug sponsors in order to maintain the facility’s financial stability into the future. Aptuit has some 800 pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients worldwide. “By having many companies’ pipelines running through the site, it’s a much more sustainable and long-term enterprise than it is for a single company,” said Colin Terry, executive vice president of Commercial Operations at Aptuit.
In February, GSK announced it would close the Verona, Italy facility as part of a restructuring plan designed to improve returns on R&D. At that time, the pharmaceutical company said it would stop all discovery research in certain areas of neuroscience, including pain and depression, which meant that its need for the Verona facility was greatly reduced. Aptuit’s agreement to buy the facility, which was supported by the Italian government and local unions, will help maintain the life sciences research and talent pool in Italy.
“When Glaxo announced they were going to be shutting the center down, there was a big reaction both from the unions on the site and from the government, who was concerned about the loss of the center and that it would damage the economy,” said Terry.
The acquisition of the Verona research center allows Aptuit to offer, for the first time, discovery and lead optimization services to companies looking for viable drug candidates. Aptuit believes these early discovery services will be a growth area for the company. “The investment firm William Blair has a number that 10 percent of discovery is outsourced. We think that number will increase,” said Terry. “We want to be leading that increase and the development of that market.”
In addition, the acquisition of the Verona facility strengthens Aptuit’s core business, which includes active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) development and manufacturing; pharmaceutics, such as medicinal chemistry; and preclinical and clinical drug development services. With the addition of the early discovery services, Terry said Aptuit has become one of the few companies that can offer drug development services that begin with discovery and extend beyond clinical testing. “The deal allows us to build out the rest of our integrated model with some of the pieces that we’ve been lacking. Customers are strategically looking for a better partnership and we are in great shape to provide that now,” said Terry.
With the acquisition of the Verona Medicines Research Center, Aptuit now has a total of 19 locations in the United States, Europe, India and Singapore.
– Karyn Korieth