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CMO Gallus buys Centocor bio facility and plans investment

By Nick Taylor , 19-May-2011

CMO Gallus BioPharmaceuticals has bought, and is investing in, a Centocor biologics facility after receiving private equity backing.

Acquisition of the Centocor Biologics facility in St Louis, Missouri was supported by investment from private equity firm Ridgemont Equity Partners. Gallus will use a further $20m (€14m), from private equity and state incentives, to expand capabilities and hire 160 staff.

We sought the best investor to help us…achieve our goal of becoming a leading biologics contract manufacturing partner providing innovative, flexible manufacturing solutions to biopharmaceutical companies”, said Mark Bamforth, president and CEO of Gallus.

The 200,000 sq ft plant was used by Centocor to manufacture Remicade (infliximab) and Stelara (ustekinumab) for global distribution. As such, it has US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and experience of commercial scale biologics production and mammalian cell culture.

Gallus plans to build on this existing infrastructure by adding a clinical services suite and expanding the development laboratory. Construction of a fill and finish area to support products in early clinical development is expected to be complete early in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Using single-use equipment from Xcellerex will allow Gallus to quickly respond to clients capacity needs. Clients will also have the option of taking virtual ownership of a production suite to gain a permanent presence and have data feeds to their own base.

Forming a CMO

Buying the facility gives Gallus, a new contract manufacturing organisation (CMO), its first production plant. From the new site Gallus, and its private equity backers, believe they can capture a chunk of the biologics CMO sector.

We see a tremendous market opportunity in the biologics contract manufacturing space and believe the facility we’ve acquired is well-positioned to meet the current and future market needs of our customers”, said Jack Purcell, a principal at Ridgemont who will join the Gallus’ board.

Ridgemont spun-off from Bank of America in 2010 and has previously made “a very successful investment” in a CMO, said Walker Poole, a partner at Ridgemont, who will also join the board at Gallus.

Missouri is offering Gallus an economic incentive package worth $14.6m. Gallus can redeem the incentives over the next 10 years as it meets requirements detailed in the incentive programme.

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