Shire: Searching the globe for innovative approaches to diseases

August 23, 2011

Six years after the acquisition of Transkaryotic Therapies (TKT), Shire has comfortably established a presence in the Boston area.  The Human Genetic Therapies (HGT) division of Shire, built around the former TKT, has grown more than four-fold from 300 people and one product to over 1,500 staff and 4 products and has recently added additional manufacturing capabilities at their Lexington, MA campus. Shire also has a Specialty Pharma division, with a US headquarters located in Wayne, PA.Shire

Shire plans a strong showing at BioPharm America September 7-9 in downtown Boston as it continues its quest to evaluate opportunities to add products and technologies to feed a pipeline focused on products for the specialty physician and on orphan drugs for rare diseases with high unmet need.

"We are bringing a broad range of representatives to this event including senior management, business development specialists, scientific scouts and researchers," said Deanna Petersen, Vice President for Business Development at Shire. "We are planning on many productive meetings."

She said Shire is casting a wide net "looking for new and novel product opportunities that are in or near the clinic that could be complimentary to our rare disease or specialty pharma businesses. We are also looking at technology platforms that have the potential to treat target diseases not currently accessible with Shire’s existing technologies," she said.

"We are combing the world right now with scouts across the US, Europe, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Korea, India and China seeking novel products and technologies. Yet consistently we find one of the richest places for innovative science is here in our backyard, the Boston area. That is one of the reasons this meeting is so important to us," said Petersen.

Shire has driven strong growth through licensing and acquisitions with a focus on specialty markets.  Revenues increased 15% last year to $3.5 billion and core product sales jumped by 34% to $700 million.

Earlier this year, Shire bought the closely held Advanced BioHealing for $750 million a move that was seen as a strong strategic fit bringing a lead product for bio- engineered skin to treat diabetic foot ulcers and sales of $146.7 million. Advanced BioHealing is the growth driver for Shire’s regenerative medicine business.

"We will be giving a partnering presentation at BioPharm America where we will highlight the top areas of interest for each of our divisions," she said, citing a transaction last year in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, "one of Shire HGT’s high priority disease areas."

Last year at this time, Shire negotiated an exclusive license to take Acceleron’s ActRIIB molecules that modulate the growth of cells and tissues outside of North America. The agreement includes a collaboration to investigate ACE-031, the lead ActRIIB drug candidate for the treatment of patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

"Rare diseases represent highly specialized markets with their own dynamics.   This is a different ballgame and we know how to play it," said Petersen. "Shire HGT seeks to be the world’s leader developing orphan drugs for rare diseases. We have a proven track record in successfully developing and  commercializing orphan products around the globe. We are looking for opportunities to collaborate with biotech partners to bring new drugs for rare diseases to market as quickly as possible."

"A differentiating factor for Shire as a whole is that we remain quick and nimble.  We can meet with a company, get an evaluation of the opportunity, determine our level of interest and move ahead in short order. ”   

"This is a breath of fresh air for biotechs and it is something we consistently deliver on," she said. "We are very patient focused.  Our end goal is to get new drugs to help patients with unmet medical needs. There are so many people who need this help."


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