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Massing in Massachusetts
MONTREAL & BOSTON—Canadian full-service pharmaceutical testing laboratory Neopharm Labs Inc. is looking south with an acquisition that gives it a foothold in the New England biopharma hub. The company announced that it had acquired Boston-based contract research organization (CRO) Averica Discovery Services Inc. in a move that helps Neopharm expand into the United States.
“We are very impressed with the knowledge and scientific track record of Dr. Jeffrey Kiplinger and the entire Averica team. The combination of the companies makes us more competitive and allows us to broaden our service offerings to the life-sciences industry. Our clients will directly benefit from the merging of our companies’ skills and talents,” Nicolas Fortin, president and general manager of Neopharm Labs, said in a press release regarding the deal.
Neopharm Labs is a full-service GMP analytical testing laboratory that offers complete portfolio validation and testing to the life-sciences industry, including: chemistry, microbiology, sterility, quality control, R&D support, ICH stability studies, method validation and transfers, as well as quality assurance and regulatory affairs consulting services. Averica is an analytical development CRO with specialized expertise in small-molecule analysis and purification and offers a range of chromatography-based services, and its capabilities and staff are expected to boost Neopharm’s own offerings. With this combination, Neopharm will be able to offer services from the beginning to the end of the drug development cycle, from R&D through to commercial testing in chemistry and microbiology.
“Our clients can now take advantage of an expanded range of services,” commented Dr. Jeffrey Kiplinger, president and CEO of Averica Discovery. “With this expansion into the U.S. market, Neopharm Labs will continue building on our combined strengths and capabilities in order to provide the very best services to its customers alike.”
Following the acquisition, Kiplinger will join Neopharm’s executive team as vice president of Science & Innovation. Averica’s laboratory in the Boston region serve as the U.S. sales office for Neopharm Labs and will continue providing existing services, with the intention to expand both its lab space and service offerings within nine months.
This isn’t the only announcement of growth so far for Averica this year. Back in June, the company shared news that new hires—three new laboratory positions—and the acquisition of new equipment had expanded both its capacity and capabilities by 50 percent. The new equipment consisted of four new instrument systems: a new preparative supercritical fluid chromatography system, a new mass-directed preparative HPLC system, a new UPLC system and a new charged aerosol detector.
“Averica is growing dramatically,” Kiplinger said of the expansion at the time. “Our analytical technologies and scientists are critical to the high-quality services we provide. The added preparative chromatography capabilities will offer more capacity for our core services. The new detectors will enable support for new types of client projects, continuing Averica’s growth trajectory.”
It’s no surprise Neopharm chose Massachusetts for its first U.S. site, as the state and its neighbors are fast becoming one of the largest biotech/pharma hubs in the country. In a ViewPoint article published last August in the Boston Business Journal, Kiplinger and Edward S. Price, president of API manufacturing company PCI Synthesis, discussed the effects of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act and the new approach needed for the future. The act offered tax incentives and investment for the state of $1 billion, and “capped years of investment in the Boston-centered cluster—the biggest in the world with big pharma/biotech, venture-backed startups and world-class university research,” wrote Kiplinger and Price, who are also co-founders of the New England CRO/CMO Council, an organization that seeks to highlight contract research and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) and their parts in the current model of pharmaceutical development.
Kiplinger and Price noted that as of August 2015, Massachusetts boasted more than 225 CROs and CMOs, which employ more than 16,000 individuals in the state and have combined revenues of almost $2.5 billion. Bob Coughlin, president of MassBio, noted that CMOs and CROs, “are becoming the backbone of the cluster as research is increasing going external from the major companies.”
Neopharm isn’t the only company interested in being part of that backbone. Charles River Laboratories, which calls Wilmington, Mass. home, made two CRO acquisitions in the area this year: Blue Stream Laboratories Inc. in late June, and Agilux Laboratories Inc. for $64 million in September.