Novartis unit to build plant for targeted cancer drugs in Indianapolis

A subsidiary of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG announced plans Tuesday to build a targeted radioligand therapy plant at Purdue Research Park near Indianapolis International Airport.

Advanced Accelerator Applications SA said it has agreed to purchase land in the research park to build the 50,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing plant, which will produce radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment.

The plant is expected to open in 2023. Financial terms and figures on job creation were not disclosed.

AAA said the facility would feature several production lines that will significantly expand production of the company’s clinical and marketed products in the United States.

Novartis acquired France-based AAA in 2018 for $3.9 billion in order to gain possession of the biotech’s top drug, Lutathera, a radioactive therapy that targets tumors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lutathera in February to treat certain cancerous neuroendocrine tumors affecting the digestive tract.

Analysts believe Lutathera could achieve peak annual sales of more than $2 billion or more, depending on its success against other types of tumors.

“We are excited by the response to our first targeted radioligand therapy, Lutathera, in the U.S. market and expect to follow this success with new treatments for other cancer types,” said Mike Rossi, AAA’s U.S. general manager. “Given the growing demand for these targeted treatments and the need to deliver such drugs to patients within a few days of production, we are expanding our U.S. manufacturing footprint with this new site.”

AAA has one other manufacturing site in the United States, in Milburn, New Jersey. The 15,000-square-foot facility has 12 production lines dedicated to Lutathera, as well as storage and office space. It opened in 2016 with 15 employees on site, with plans to expand to 50 people.

In addition to Lutathera, AAA has several other drug candidates in its pipeline that are targeted radioligand therapies.

Targeted radioligand therapy combines a precision-targeting compound with a therapeutic radioactive particle that binds to markers expressed by tumors, inhibiting tumor growth and replication. Because it targets specific tumor cells, surrounding healthy tissue is less affected by the treatment.

“We believe that radioligand therapy has the potential to become a major pillar of cancer treatment,” AAA President Sidonie Golombowski-Daffner said in a statement. “We are also proud to support the communities in which we operate by creating skilled jobs and promoting economic growth.”

AAA parent Novartis is no stranger to Indiana. In 2018, it acquired West Lafayette-based biopharmaceutical firm Endocyte for $2.1 billion. It also has a Novartis Oncology office in Indianapolis.

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