VERONA, Italy—GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Aptuit Inc. havereached an agreement for Aptuit to acquire operations at GSK's MedicinesResearch Centre here.
The arrangement, which took effect July 1, provides forongoing employment of the staff at the facility.
According to Aptuit CEO Tim Tyson, the agreement alsoincludes a three-year commitment to provide GSK with R&D services from thefacility.
"There is the potential to extend that work beyond the yearsalready agreed to," Tyson says.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
According to Tyson, Aptuit will gain the scientificexpertise and knowledge at the research center through the transfer of thefacility's approximately 500 staff from GSK to Aptuit. This will help maintainthe life sciences research and talent pool in Italy.
"The operations at the Verona site opened in 1990, and thepeople there have worked for 20, 25 years or more on integrated drugdevelopment," Tyson says. "This facility has some late stage research anddevelopment through Phase II. There is some integrated capability under oneroof, competent scientists and world-class equipment on-site."
In addition to becoming an important member of GSK'scontract research organization network, acquisition of the operations will alsoallow Aptuit to provide integrated development services to its globalcustomers.
The acquisition meshes with Aptuit's core competency. Tysonalso points out that the company was built to provide an integrated drugdevelopment capability and streamline the drug development process.
"This is a strategic acquisition of GSK's research businessin Verona that further strengthens scientific expertise and capabilities withinAptuit, extending our integrated discovery and development offerings," he says."This partnership is an example of the developing new model of outsourcedR&D collaborations. Verona's staff are recognized industry-wide for theirdrug development expertise and will be an excellent addition to the Aptuitteam."
GSK announced in February its proposal to cease discoveryresearch in select neurosciences areas such as pain and depression, whichimpacted research at the Italian facility.
Moncef Slaoui, chairman of GSK R&D, says he was pleasedthat both GSK and Aptuit have developed this innovative approach.
"It provides a modern option for drug discovery expertise toremain as part of the science research community in Italy, and offers theopportunity to assure continuity of employment for the GSK staff at the site,"he says. "This arrangement would not have been possible without the input ofthe Italian government and unions."
Tyson notes that the acquisition expands Aptuit's globalfootprint to 19 locations.
"We now have about 3,000 employees worldwide," he says. "Weservice about 800 customers and touch 2,000 molecules a year, 50 percent to 70percent of all molecules in development."
The agreement also enhances Aptuit's ability to servecustomers working to develop compounds for high-value and strategicallyimportant therapeutic areas such as neurosciences discovery and development, aswell as cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
"We fully intend to make this a drug development center ofexcellence and we intend on growing the site," Tyson adds.
The site also performs active pharmaceutical ingredient(API) development and manufacturing and preclinical and clinical drugdevelopment.
"Our focus is to provide drug development capability andintegrate drug development offerings to the industry," Tyson says. "We arelooking to augment the capability with services and products that the market islooking for. This operation has a number of things we currently have and thingsthat we can expand on."
Moreover, Tyson says the center fits with Aptuit's visionand current capability.
"It also extends it because there is a group here that doestarget verification and lead optimization—an area we have heard consistentlyaround the marketplace that people are looking for the capability as they aretrying to select molecules to invest in and to take into the clinic," he says."It offered us the opportunity to expand a new capability."
Success, Tyson says, will be measured by "the ability forthis to grow over time and generate growth, both in revenue and inprofitability. We are already seeing early interest. And we've already signedup a few customers though we haven't yet closed the deal."
The acquisition also may not be the last for Aptuit, whichkeeps plenty of potential deals on its radar at any particular time.
"We're always looking," Tyson says. "We have about 40opportunities we are investigating at any time. We are looking to be theleading drug delivery company in the marketplace. This particular facility meta market need and enables us to grow our business based on the deal with GSK."