Lawrence-based CritiTech Inc. has joined forces with a major Indian pharmaceutical firm in a deal that is expected to open up worldwide markets for drug development technology created in Lawrence.
CritiTech officials on Thursday announced they had formed a joint venture with Hyderabad, India-based Finoso Pharma that will allow the companies to begin working on multiple new pharmaceutical products.
“Together, we think we’re going to be able to do what no one else can do,” said Sam Campbell, president and chairman of CritiTech.
The new joint venture — named Finotech Pharma — will use specialized “fine-particle production equipment” developed by CritiTech and Kansas University researchers to create new pharmaceutical drugs. The CritiTech technology is designed to produce drugs that are easier for the body to accept and that cut down on harmful side effects.
Campbell said the deal likely will result in about 20 new drug development projects for CritiTech in the next 12 months.
Work on the projects will take place in both Hyderabad and Lawrence. Campbell said initially the deal will result in about five new positions at CritiTech’s Lawrence office, with most being either laboratory or administrative in nature.
Campbell said the Lawrence office will be responsible for small-scale manufacturing of new drugs, which would be used in clinical trails. Commercial-scale manufacturing of drugs likely would be outsourced, although Campbell isn’t ruling out the possibility of manufacturing taking place in Lawrence in the future.
“I think in the next five to 10 years there is the possibility that we could grow pretty rapidly,” Campbell said. “I think we could be a very valuable spinoff company for the university, and almost all of our shareholders are local. We think our success could enable the industry to get a little more of a foothold here in Lawrence.”
Campbell said the deal with the Indian company is the most visible sign yet that the pharmaceutical industry sees great promise in the technology.
“For the longest time we couldn’t convince the industry that this technology was possible until we did it ourselves,” Campbell said.
CritiTech installed its first fine-particle production device in its West Lawrence laboratory about a year ago. Since then, Campbell said, interest levels from pharmaceutical firms have been high.
Campbell said he expects the deal with Finoso Pharma to spur agreements with other companies, but he said CritiTech is particularly excited to get the technology into the Indian economy, which has seen rapid growth in the pharmaceutical industry. Finoso leaders said the new partnership would be attractive to both Indian and international clients of Finoso.
“By combining our experience in the domestic and international product development market with CritiTech’s technology and expertise, clients will receive a higher level of service and new drug delivery options for their products.”
Campbell said the new deal likely will cause CritiTech to look for new office and laboratory space in Lawrence within the next year. Currently the company has its administrative offices at 1201 Wakarusa Drive. But it has its laboratory in the West Lawrence “expansion incubator” that is operated by the Bioscience and Technology Business Center, which is a joint venture between the city, the county, KU and the local bioscience authority.