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AMRI merges discovery units

By Gareth Macdonald , 10-Jan-2011

AMRI has combined its discovery R&D and chemistry units into a single unit it claims will benefit customers.

The move, which will not result in any job cuts or facility divestitures brings together AMRI’s core discovery businesses and is in line with customer demand according to senior VP of drug discovery Bruce Sargent.

Dr Sargent told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “The combination was driven by a desire to fulfill customer needs for fully integrated drug discovery services, with the chemistry and biology capabilities closely coupled.

The decision was enabled by the good performance of our biology operations which have been able to grow to a level where they can bring true synergies with chemistry,” he added.

This is supported by AMRI’s most recent set of financials when it said that gains made by its biology R&D business in the nine months to September had partially offset lower revenue from its small-scale contract manufacturing unit.

Sargent cited reduced lead-optimisation times and improved cross departmental communication among the likely advantages for the firm’s contract research customers.

Combining the two units comes after a significant effort on AMRI’s part to reduce its discovery R&D spending which, as of September 31 2010, was $8.4m (€6.5), down from $12m in the comparable period in 2009.

R&D evolution

The consolidation is also in keeping with AMRIs efforts to reorganize contract R&D operations over the last few years.

This process began in April 2009 when the firm moved its US R&D base to a larger site in Bothwell, Washington DC and continued, a few months later, with the opening of a new research facility in Budapest, Hungary.

More recently AMRI has shifted its focus to Asia, investing to expand its discovery chemistry services facility in Singapore last August in a move partly driven by the transfer of services for Merck & Co formerly provided in the US.

Compound licensing business

Combining the two discovery units will also impact on AMRI’s internal development programmes as, prior to the merger, both units played a key role in creating drug candidates that can licensed to external partners.

Just last week AMRI signed a deal with US biotechnology firm Genentech that saw the latter firm access a library of candidate antimicrobial compounds developed by the contractor’s discovery team.

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