Canadian startup wants to be ready with Indy plant when drug hits market

A Toronto-based pharmaceutical startup that announced plans Tuesday to build a $25 million cancer-drug manufacturing plant on the northwest side of Indianapolis said it hopes to bring its first product to market by 2023, a move that is pushing it to get ready for production now.

Point Biopharma Inc. said that getting the product to market will depend on the outcome of clinical trials for its lead drug, a specialized treatment for prostate cancer, as well as getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But it wants to be up and running as soon as the drug is ready to hit the market.

“We need that manufacturing [plant] built now so that we’re never in a short-supply situation with our drugs, and that they’re readily available for patients who are waiting for them,” CEO Joe McCann said in an interview with IBJ on Tuesday.

Unlike many pharmaceutical startups, which often contract with outside manufacturers to make their drugs, McCann said he wanted to keep manufacturing in-house. McCann previously worked as a CEO for the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, where he led the organization through development of 17 different imaging probe and radiotherapeutic programs, used in national and international clinical trials.

“What I could see from my experience at that company was there’s nobody out there that’s developing commercial contract manufacturing supply for radiopharmaceuticals,” he said. “These are very specialized drugs. They’re made just in time. They’re really considered personalized medicine. … Given that was my bread and butter for 10 years, I really convinced our team that we needed to bring manufacturing in-house to truly deliver.”

The company, which launched in February and hopes to start clinical trials this year, makes radioligand therapies, which hold the promise of delivering radiation to the site of cancer cells in a more precise manner than chemotherapy.

The company said radioligands are safe and effective cancer treatments that have been used for many years to diagnose and treat cancers such as non-Hodgkins lymphoma, neuroendocrine tumors, thyroid cancer and, most recently, prostate cancer.

Point said it will transform a 77,000-square-foot building at 4850 W. 78th St. into a cancer-drug manufacturing plant, its first in the United States.

The company said it expects to hire 30 workers over the next two years, with employment ramping up further as production increases. The private company expects to employ 113 workers by the end of 2024.

In return for the job commitments, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered the company up to $1.3 million in tax credits. The IEDC also offered $500,000 in tax credits in return for Point’s capital investment. The credits are performance-based, meaning the company cannot claim them unless it follows through with its hiring and investment plans.

The city of Indianapolis is offering an 8-year tax abatement on real and personal property taxes that could be worth about $380,000. Point will also invest about $19,000 to provide training to lower-wage employers, and will provide them with vouchers for child care and IndyGo bus transportation.

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