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Archive for Tuesday, November 13, 2001

CyDex boosts drug-development efforts in area

November 13, 2001

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An Overland Park-based pharmaceutical company has hired an industry expert to supervise its research-and-development activities, just as the firm's main product waits on the brink of regulatory approval.

CyDex Inc., a commercial offshoot of research at Kansas University, announced Monday that it had hired Joseph Lacz as its new vice president for research and development.

Lacz comes to CyDex with 25 years of pharmaceutical experience, most recently as senior vice president and site general manager for Quintiles Inc. in Kansas City, Mo.

Lacz will oversee development efforts for Captisol, CyDex's patented drug-delivery compound that already has been licensed to some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.

Captisol now is being used in "four or five" of CyDex's own drug candidates including one already in clinical trials and Lacz will oversee such efforts, said Peter Higuchi, the company's president and chief executive officer.

"His stature and knowledge add greatly to the strength of our scientific organization," Higuchi said. "As CyDex develops a number of drug candidates with significant market potential, Dr. Lacz's expertise in managing pharmaceutical development will tremendously enhance our prospects."

Privately held CyDex was created in 1993, spun off from KU's Higuchi Biosciences Center for Drug Delivery Research to continue development of Captisol. The compound was created at KU and since has been licensed to Pfizer Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Allergan Inc. and other drug companies.

Last month, Pfizer announced that its Vfend antifungal compound which includes Captisol had received a unanimous recommendation for approval from an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration. The recommendation represents the last step before FDA approval.

Vfend is intended to target serious fungal infections and complement the clinical profile of Pfizer's Diflucan, already the world's top-selling antifungal agent.

"It'll be very positive, because it will be our first U.S. approval," said Wayne Ideus, CyDex's director of business development. "That's always a banner one."

During the past year CyDex has added laboratories for in-house formulation and product development, the company said. It has 22 employees, up from 13 a year ago.

Having Lacz on the CyDex team will help build business, Ideus said, given the scientist's extensive experience.

At Quintiles, Lacz was responsible for the company's contract with Aventis Pharma, supporting North American development of Aventis' portfolio of potential new drugs.

Before joining Quintiles in 1999, Lacz spent more than 18 years with Marion Laboratories, which later became Marion Merrell Dow and finally Hoechst Marion Roussel. He began his career in preclinical research at American McGraw Laboratories, from 1976 to 1980.

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