Catalent snaps up Juniper Pharmaceuticals

$133-million deal adds European Early Development Center of Excellence to global network

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SOMERSET, N.J.—Catalent announced in July that it had agreed to acquire Juniper Pharmaceuticals, including its Nottingham, U.K.-based Juniper Pharma Services division. When combined with Catalent’s existing drug development and manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. and Europe, the acquisition of Juniper will expand and strengthen Catalent’s offerings in formulation development, bioavailability solutions and clinical-scale oral dose manufacturing, as well as complement its integrated global, clinical and commercial supply network.
Juniper has deep scientific expertise in formulation, development and supply, and will augment Catalent’s current portfolio of solid-state screening, preformulation, formulation, analytical and bioavailability enhancement solutions (including development of spray-dried dispersions) with integrated development, analytical and clinical manufacturing co-located in its Nottingham facility.
Like Catalent, Juniper has expertise in solid-state and preclinical formulation screening for lead-candidate selection, phase-appropriate dose-form development and superior technologies for challenging molecules, which will strengthen and expand on Catalent’s OptiForm Solution Suite platform. Juniper provides bioavailability enhancement solutions for the development of poorly soluble compounds, including nano-milling, spray drying, hot-melt extrusion, lipid-based drug delivery and cGMP clinical manufacturing, including specialized facilities and controls for potent and controlled substances.
“Juniper’s proven solutions and capabilities will further support Catalent’s strategic goal to be the most comprehensive partner for pharmaceutical innovators,” commented Jonathan Arnold, president of Catalent Oral Drug Delivery. “Juniper’s scientific expertise in early-phase product development and supply will help our customers unlock the full potential of their molecules and provide better treatments to patients, faster.”
Catalent will continue to support Juniper’s Crinone (progesterone gel) franchise marketed by Merck KGaA outside of the United States, and by Allergan plc in the United States. Juniper’s Intravaginal Ring development pipeline was previously licensed to Daré Bioscience, and Catalent will not be involved in the further development of this program.
As mentioned in the August edition of DDNews, the Juniper Pharma Services (JPS) division of Juniper Pharmaceuticals has recently invested in its equipment and facilities, investing $1.7 million into new processing equipment. After successfully implementing a set of three pieces of top-specification solid dosage processing equipment a year ago—a Gerteis MINI-PACTOR roller compactor, a KG Pharma RoTab Bilayer tablet press and an O’Hara Labcoat Film Coater—JPS invested in a duplicate process chain, which became fully operational at the end of June. The new equipment, installed in Juniper Pharma Services’ Nottingham-based clinical manufacturing site, is expected to improve the efficiency of drug production timelines.
“This significant investment signals our commitment to expanding our services to meet with the growing demand in solid oral dosage form development—a demand that is particularly prominent for difficult-to-formulate compounds in which JPS specializes,” said Claire Madden-Smith, senior vice president at Juniper Pharma Services. “Our new equipment will greatly contribute to the niche manufacturing requirements of our clients and enable JPS to work towards solving even more drug development challenges for unmet medical needs.”
JPS also announced a significant expansion of its U.K.-based drug development and clinical trial manufacturing facilities, with four additional process development laboratories expected to be operational by the end of summer 2018 at the Nottingham site. JPS hopes the expansion will ensure that processing and formulation work is scalable, enabling the efficient manufacture of stable clinical batches.
“The expansion demonstrates Juniper Pharma Services’ growth in the drug development arena and its increasing commitment to solving tough formulation challenges. We are always exploring opportunities to extend our service offerings to meet the evolving requirements of our market and clients. This facility expansion, which has significantly increased Juniper Pharma Services’ capacity, is the latest effort in this endeavor,” Nikin Patel, president of Juniper Pharma Services, noted in a statement.
In 2016, Catalent purchased Pharmatek Laboratories, and has invested in its San Diego facility to create a center of excellence for early drug development on the U.S. West Coast. Earlier this year, Catalent announced it would invest in its Somerset, N.J. facility to create a similarly focused center of excellence on the East Coast. Juniper will provide similar capabilities in the U.K. and complement Catalent’s multi-site oral manufacturing network to provide pharmaceutical innovators with a comprehensive solution to accelerate their drug development processes.
The acquisition of Juniper is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including that a majority of Juniper’s shares are tendered into the offer, and is expected to close in the first quarter of Catalent’s 2019 fiscal year. Under the acquisition agreement with Juniper, a subsidiary of Catalent will promptly commence a tender offer to purchase all of Juniper’s shares for a price of $11.50 per share, net to the seller in cash. Following the conclusion of the tender offer, Catalent intends to complete the transaction by acquiring the remainder of the Juniper shares at the same price through a merger with a newly formed, wholly owned subsidiary of Catalent.

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