Catalent eyes early-phase work with $133m Juniper acquisition

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/JK1991)
(Image: Getty/JK1991)
Catalent is set to acquire Juniper Pharmaceuticals in a $133m deal, which will provide the CDMO with a new European hub and the ability to win a larger share of early-phase development programs says exec.

Per the agreement, the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) also will acquire Juniper’s Nottingham, UK-based Pharma Services division.

A company spokesperson told us no decision on whether Juniper will become a wholly-owned subsidiary has been made at present. "Until the deal closes later in Catalent’s first quarter, both companies will continue to operate independently,"​ the spokesperson said.

Jonathan Arnold, president, Catalent Oral Drug Delivery, described the $133m deal as “a strategic acquisition focused on adding capabilities to better serve a broader range of global customers.

“With more than 7,000 small molecules undergoing preclinical to Phase II development, and more than 2,000 of those under development in Western Europe, the acquisition of Juniper provides Catalent with greater capacity, expertise, and flexibility to win a larger share of those programs,”​ he told us.

“Growth synergies will focus on the integration of Juniper’s offerings into Catalent’s current early-phase offerings, such as OptiForm Solution Suite, first-in-human formulation strategies and formulation optimization, addition of nano-milling to formulation screening and expanded bioavailability enhancement capabilities, especially in the area of spray drying," ​he added.

Juniper’s UK location – which will provide Catalent with a European hub for early-stage formulation and development – complements the CDMO’s early development centers of excellence in San Diego, CA and Somerset, NJ, Arnold said.

The Juniper site also is expected to be a source of future development programs for Catalent’s other manufacturing sites in Europe and the US, he added.

Catalent will continue to support Juniper’s CRINONE (progesterone gel) franchise marketed by Merck KGaA outside the US.

Expanding its global network

Juniper’s capabilities complement Catalent’s Pharmatek acquisition, said David Windley, CFA, CPA, managing director, Healthcare Equity Research, Jefferies LLC, and “continue to fill out the Opti-form formulation solution strategy.”

Additionally, Juniper has access to 100 incremental molecules, which Windley said could feed into Catalent’s new product introduction (NPI) count. As he explained, Juniper “adds pipeline and capability, not just capacity that needs to be filled, consistent with Micron, Pharmatek.”

Catalent purchased Pharmatek Laboratories in 2016 and has since established a center of excellence for early drug development in the US following investment in Pharmatek’s San Diego facility.

Earlier this year, Catalent announced plans to invest in its Somerset, NJ facility to create an additional center of excellence on America’s East Coast.

The company also completed a $5.5m expansion program​ at its 200,000+ square foot facility in Philadelphia, PA in April of this year. The expanded facility provides additional clinical packaging and storage capacity.

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