Hollister-Stier Laboratories of Spokane has sold the rights to its Twinject epinephrine auto-injector to Verus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Hollister-Stier retained the exclusive right to manufacture the Twinject, which it spent 10 years developing before FDA approval in May 2003.
Hollister-Stier President and CEO Anthony Bonanzino said he has been working with San Diego-based Verus for about a year while finalizing and improving the product. Bonanzino said he expects the sale to close in September. He declined to disclose the value of the transaction.
“This has the potential to be an extremely large contract for us,” he said. “Verus hasn’t launched the product yet, but the potential is significant.”
Bonanzino said Hollister-Stier’s revenue is split evenly between its production of allergy-treatment products and contract manufacturing work for pharmaceutical companies. Once the Twinject is launched, contract-service revenues will account for the majority of the company’s revenues, he said.
Twinject is the only FDA-approved product that contains two doses of epinephrine. Bonanzino said the only other self-administered treatment for anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction to things such as bee stings and food, is a single-dose auto-injector called the EpiPen, developed by Napa, Calif.-based Dey Laboratories in the 1980s.
The two-dose system made the product attractive to Verus, said Kathy Sweeney, who handles public relations for the company.
“It just made a lot of sense for them to go with the two-dose system,” Sweeney said. “A lot of cases now have a need for two doses. This is the first new product to address anaphylaxis in 20 years.”
Verus was founded in November 2002. Twinject is the company’s first product acquisition, according to Sweeney, who said Verus is building a sales force to market the product. Sweeney said the company is finalizing other contract transactions for related diseases.
Bonanzino said Verus was also interested in Twinject because it serves an unmet need for children and adults.
“It’s a wonderful market with very little competition,” he said.
Hollister-Stier has more than 350 employees in the Spokane area and is currently constructing a 10,000-square-foot warehouse near its facility at 3525 North Regal St. It will purchase a $5 million freeze dryer to extract moisture from liquid products and a $1 million replacement sterilizing tunnel within the next year, Bonanzino said.
“We are clearly in a significant growth mode,” he said, “when you consider that four years ago we were really at the initial stages of developing our contract manufacturing process and today that represents more than half the company. We are operating it as a growth business and are continuing to expand.”
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