IBJNews

Chao exit hurts drug development industry

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Purdue University’s decision to close the Chao Center in West Lafayette is a setback for Indiana’s effort to grow a vibrant contract drug manufacturing sector. But it’s just the latest in a series of unexpected changes—not all for the worse—since Indianapolis-based BioCrossroads launched a contract drug manufacturing initiative in late 2007.

The Chao Center formulated and manufactured small batches of chemical drugs used in clinical trials and performed analysis on experimental drugs. Purdue is hoping to find a private company to come in and take over the 5-year-old facility.

“That is a loss for our system,” said BioCrossroads CEO David Johnson. “It’s more a loss for the scientific part of our system than the business part.”

What BioCrossroads hoped to do was to package and pitch a full range of services offered by Indiana companies to help small drug-discovery firms move their experimental compounds through the various stages of testing. BioCrossroads still maintains an office in one of the nation's hotspots for drug discovery, San Diego.

But since that office opened in early 2008, the entire industry has changed. When the stock market melted down in late 2008, venture capital dried up for drug- discovery firms, pushing them to seek out large pharmaceutical companies to help develop their drugs.

As such deals were struck, large drug companies, such as Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., were also looking to outsource more work to contract research and manufacturing firms as a way to reduce their costs.

“The contract drug development is brisker than ever, but you’ve got to pay attention to who’s paying the bills,” Johnson said. More often, big pharma is writing the checks, he said, even if a drug being developed is owned by a small biotech firm.

The recession prevented the Chao Center for Industrial Pharmacy and Contract Manufacturing from getting enough business to make a profit, according to Joe Hornett, director of the Purdue Research Park. The Chao Center’s most consistent work was making seromycin, a medicine to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis, for Lilly.

It’s not clear how much interest the Chao Center might generate among private contract-manufacturing firms. Lilly successfully sold its manufacturing facility in Lafayette to Germany-based Evonik AG last year, after shopping it for a year, by promising to be the facility’s first customer.

Johnson said Purdue could also package itself and its scientists as it pitches the Chao Center to private firms. “The attraction for an outside party would obviously be the relationship with Purdue,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

ADVERTISEMENT