Tripos to dissolve after Discovery Research sale

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drug discovery, Pharmacology

Tripos has agreed to sell its UK-based Discovery Research business
to US-based drug discovery company Provid Pharmaceuticals for $2m
(€1.5m).

The move follows the recent sale of its Discovery Informatics business to Vector Capital for $25.6m after the firm had struggled in the wake of big pharmaceutical companies moving outsourcing-contracts to lower cost competitors in India, Asia and China.

Tripos struggled to cope with the loss of a $90m deal from Pfizer and several other large contracts not materialising. It had managed to grow its non-Pfizer business three-fold but could not maintain the company at the size it had grown to be able to deliver on the Pfizer deal.

The company had also struggled to meet the increased costs of the new financial reporting requirements for public businesses, put in place after the Enron scandal, costing somewhere between $2m and $2.5m.

The streamlining of the company has seen the number of staff at its UK-facility fall from 165 to 40 over the last year. Dr John McAlister, Tripos CEO, said: "The business will remain in Bude, England, and the new owners will retain the current management and staff of Tripos Discovery Research."

Provid Pharmaceuticals provides drug discovery services from their US base in New Jersey with a similar focus to Tripos' Discovery Research on the design, identification and optimisation of novel lead compounds for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

The fate of the corporate headquartes staff is, as yet, unclear, however in a previous interview, McAlister had told DrugResearcher.com that they would be the hardest hit in terms of redundancies.

McAlister continued: "With the agreement on this transaction, Tripos has now made provision for the sale of each of its principal business units to other strategic owners with resources committed to continuing and enhancing those businesses as private companies to maximise their potential for future success."

"Furthermore, we are providing our stockholders with a proposal that our board believes provides them with a greater certainty of value than the continued uncertainty of operating Tripos in its current form."

Ironically, McAlister believes that the need for drug-makers to cut ever increasing research and development costs will ensure the success of the two companies under private ownership.

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Preclinical

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