PhillyInc: A mix of messages from area's life-sciences companies

Endo Pharmaceutical CEO Dave P. Holveck (left) with Gov. Corbett. Holveck is stepping down.
Endo Pharmaceutical CEO Dave P. Holveck (left) with Gov. Corbett. Holveck is stepping down. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 18, 2012

The last seven days of news from the region's life-sciences industry was a mix of messages involving expansion, succession, relocation, contraction, and conclusion.

Iroko Pharmaceuticals L.L.C. cemented its reputation as a company to watch Wednesday when it celebrated the opening of its new offices at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. Begun by veterans of the region's Big Pharma companies, Iroko has grown over the last five years to employ about 60 and could triple the number working in its new 56,412-square-foot building over the next few years.

Later that day, Endo Health Solutions Inc. threw an unexpected curveball when it announced that CEO David P. Holveck would retire by May. With no successor in hand and a cut in its 2012 earnings guidance, Endo saw its shares fall 3.4 percent on Thursday and 3.9 percent Friday.

Endo is a homegrown company that has acquired its way over the last 15 years to annual revenue of $2.7 billion. Under Holveck, it announced plans to relocate its operations and 575 employees from Chadds Ford to Malvern in 2013. The question is how a new CEO might change the company once it unpacks in Malvern.

On Monday, another local company to watch, Promedior Inc., made official what it had announced in May: It relocated from Malvern to Lexington, Mass. The venture-backed Promedior may have only a dozen employees, but it was a magnet for capital, having raised $65 million since 2006.

Why the move? Promedior hired a new CEO in May, Suzanne L. Bruhn, who joined from Shire P.L.C. Though Shire's U.S. headquarters are in Wayne, Bruhn had been a senior executive in Shire's Human Genetic Therapies division in the Boston area.

Finally, on Monday, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. jettisoned the non-gout drug-product lines of Philadelphia's URL Pharma Inc., which the Japanese firm had acquired for $800 million in June. Takeda wanted URL for its Colcrys gout therapy, which had 2011 sales of $430 million, as a complement to Takeda's own gout drug, Uloric, which had sales of $115 million last year.

Takeda, with U.S. headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., did not disclose what price was paid for the assets it sold to Detroit-based Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd., a unit of India's Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Add it all up and I'm not sure if these events mean the region's life-sciences beaker is half-full or half-empty.


Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.

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