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Bio-Pharma Firm Expands

by marcia chambers | Sep 11, 2013 3:13 pm

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Contributed Photo Thanks to a $2.25 million windfall from the state, Durata Therapeutic. Inc., has completed extensive renovations to its 18,000-square-foot space at its new digs at 322 E. Main St. in Branford, and is in striking distance of winning Food & Drug Administration (FDA) final approval for a major drug to treat acute bacterial skin infections.

The company moved into the town’s largest office building nearly a year ago, a building that had been vacant since 2009 when the Curagen company fell on hard times and left.  Now there is life back in the building, which is located near Exit 55 on I-95.

Officials celebrated those developments in a tour of the building last month. Durata’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Dunne and other top Durata executives flew into Connecticut from Chicago to take a tour of their sleek new space. Dr. Dunne and Paul R. Edick, Durata’s 
Chief Executive Officer, thanked Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s local legislators, for fast-tracking the company’s move to Connecticut. (See photo above.)

The state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) authorized $2.25 million in bonding to help Durata obtain and refurbish major space in the old CuraGen building. And the Town expedited building permits and inspections. Durata moved its research and development, clinical and regulatory operations from New Jersey.

Durata, a bio-pharmaceutical firm, is part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s BioScience initiative, an program designed to help re-invent Connecticut’s economy. Earlier this month at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Gov. Malloy signed a bill to create a Bioscience Innovation Fund. The $200 million fund will make investments over the next 10 years in the form of grants, equity investments, loans and loan guarantees to foster innovation in smaller companies across the state.

State Rep. Lonnie Reed co-chairs the legislature’s Bipartisan Life Sciences Caucus and worked to help recruit Durata. She said, “Durata Therapeutics is a wonderful company and a prime example of how Connecticut’s Bioscience investment is bearing fruit all over the state, Branford included.” She noted that Dr. Dunne is a former Pfizer executive who had left for New Jersey. Rep. Reed said, “Dr. Dunne is proof positive that opportunities exist for recruiting valuable professionals and companies back to Connecticut; assets we thought we had lost.”

When one visitor remarked that the Branford and Chicago offices appeared identical, Dr. Dunne said that was by design. 

“We constantly want to reinforce the notion that we are all connected and, with the help of technology, working together every day in a comprehensive pursuit of our goals.”

Contributed Photo The executives said their ability to make a swift move to Branford allowed them to them focus on crucial third stage clinical trials for their lead drug candidate, Dalbavancin. The Branford office is now conducting trials all over the world.  Here Dr. Dunne shows Governor Malloy, Rep. Reed and Commissioner Smith a world view map of clinical trial sites.

Dr. Dunne said Dalbavancin is designed to treat hard to cure acute infections more quickly and, in some cases, on an outpatient basis. He also expressed hope for winning FDA approval to treat pediatric osteomyelitis with a faster, more child friendly cure.

Dr. Dunne said the Branford workforce is now up to 25 and growing with the potential of many more local jobs. By 2016 the company expects to create 80 new full-time jobs, many commuting from nearby towns.

“We are happy to be here and are really enjoying the local restaurants and other businesses,” he said. Dr. Dunne and his colleagues also expressed interest in exploring mutually beneficial associations with other Connecticut bioscience companies, including Jackson Labs that is launching a new venture in Farmington that focuses on personalized medicine.

Rep. Patricia Widlitz, who co-chairs the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and serves Guilford and part of Branford, praised the Governor’s strategy to grow the state’s pharmaceutical/ bioscience industry. “Our $2 million investment bringing Durata to Branford is not only a win for our district, but also strengthens Connecticut’s industry cluster of prominent bioscience businesses.

First Selectman Unk DaRos said he was proud of the role Town Hall played in attracting Durata to Branford. He said he had no doubt that Durata will become a leader in Branford’s business community.

“Durata’s arrival further demonstrates that Branford offers everything a life science company needs – strategic location, full municipal services, low taxes and a skilled workforce. He said he appreciated the governor’s leadership “and the extraordinary efforts of Representatives Reed and Widlitz in working with the company executives.”

Joe Gordon, who chairs the Branford Economic Development Commission, was enthusiastic as well. He said “Durata recognizes Branford as a place where science and engineering meet. Combine that with the state’s commitment to foster growth in the biotech industry, the hands-on participation of Representatives Reed and Widlitz and the town’s quick responsiveness to this opportunity and it is abundantly clear that success that can be realized when we work together.” 

The governor says that BioScience is the way to reinvent Connecticut’s overall economy.  “Little by little, we are turning around years of stagnation and growing jobs for our residents.”

DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said the new BioScience fund “will promote economic development by allowing investments in translational research, emerging technologies and new companies.  It is a terrific example of how Governor Malloy’s economic development strategy works: combining the resources of the state, the private sector, and our research universities to enhance our position in the bioscience sector and establish Connecticut as a global destination for leading edge medical innovation.”

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