Media Coverage

KindredBio's new biologics facility will go from 'shell' to sell in two years

Sep 06, 2017 - Animal Pharm

By Joseph Harvey
Animal Pharm
September 6, 2017

KindredBio's newest facility currently has an eerie feel since the previous tenants powered down for good. While the site's equipment has largely been auctioned off, reminders of former lab workers and office staff lie dotted around.

Looking at various dated email print-outs and post-it notes on the walls, the trail ends in January 2017. This is when Strategic Veterinary Pharmaceuticals closed and the 50 staff at the site had to leave.

In June, KindredBio spent $3.75 million on the site, which has always been a veterinary pharmaceuticals facility since it was built in the 1970s. The first owners were Tech America. Then Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica acquired it in the late 1980s, employing up to 200 people at the site. SVPI acquired the building in 2012.

In the future, KindredBio hopes to employ 50-100 people in Elwood to manufacture its pipeline of biologics.

Denise Bevers, co-founder and chief operating officer, told Animal Pharm: "It's a shell now but soon it's going to look completely different. We're talking to architects, engineers and equipment vendors to work out how we are going to configure the plant what we're going to keep and what's going to go. We will likely mothball some of it."

The company is hoping to have decided on its plans for the plant before the end of this year, while production is around two years away. This timeline includes commissioning of all equipment – new and old – thus bringing it within the USDA's guidelines.

The 180,000 square-feet building resides on eight acres of land. It features a clean room, office space, internal water supply, warehousing and cold storage.

"It has so much opportunity," Ms Bevers said. "Manufacturing our biologics in-house is the only way to be truly competitive. We have a lot of vision for this facility. Biologics is the future of veterinary medicine and investing in it makes sense."

Recently, the company told Animal Pharm about the interest its atopic dermatitis monoclonal antibodies have been receiving. Ms Bevers said they were surprised by this attention, as the candidates are only at the pilot stage. In 2018, KindredBio hopes to enter pivotal trials for some of its monoclonal antibodies.

The firm's antibodies target atopic dermatitis, cancer, autoimmune disease and allergies in dogs. Three canine antibodies are in pilot studies, while three more are nearing the end of the discovery process.

Complementary manufacturing

"We looked at all the options," said Ms Bevers about the company's search for biologics manufacturing capabilities. "We looked for a facility outside the US and we thought about building somewhere from scratch, which would have cost more. Then we saw this facility and the price was right. A place like this would have cost at least $10m to build ourselves."

KindredBio has an existing 2,500 square-foot cGMP manufacturing site at its headquarters in Burlingame, California. Here, it has the capacity to produce epoCat (feline recombinant erythropoietin), a product candidate designed for the control of non-regenerative anemia in cats. The company will also keep its R&D and clinical trials work in Burlingame.

The Elwood site was acquired to take on the production of antibodies once these products are further down the line towards approval.

"We didn't want manufacturing to be the limiting factor," she explained. "In fact, we've already had interest from animal health companies on partnering for manufacturing because there's a huge gap for antibody manufacturing of veterinary products. It's something we might do in the future but we want to make sure our pipeline is ready first."

The establishment of its presence in Elwood means KindredBio finally has "bricks and mortar" in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, putting at the heart of the largest concentration of animal health companies globally. The business has employees who live in the Kansas City area but this is the first time KindredBio has been able to put its name to a physical structure in the region.

R&D 'not slowing down'

KindredBio has some potentially big landmarks on the horizon. The firm is hoping to achieve US approval for Mirataz (management of weight loss in cats) towards the end of this year, with authorization of Zimeta (control of pyrexia in horses) at the beginning of 2018.

The company recently sealed a commercial manufacturing agreement with Corden Pharma for the manufacture of Zimeta.

Ms Bevers said there are around 20 more products in KindredBio's pipeline. These include 12 candidates that have been publicly divulged and another eight that remain under wraps.

"R&D is not slowing down," she told Animal Pharm. "We've got to make sure that we don't take our foot off the pedal. Every dollar spent on R&D will return a multiple, especially when we have manufacturing up and running."

Commercial capabilities coming together

As well as getting its manufacturing plans in check, KindredBio is also preparing its sales teams. The company is currently interviewing candidates for positions on one sales team for its small animal products (around 20 people in total) and its equine products (five people).

Earlier this year, KindredBio chief executive Richard Chin explained to Animal Pharm the commercialization strategy for the firm's two lead products.

While KindredBio will sell Zimeta itself to the 5,000-7,000 equine vets in the US, while the company will also sell Mirataz in the states itself.

The company is also working to stay an independent company. In July, KindredBio installed a shareholder rights plan. This strategy, also known as a 'poison pill', prevents a shareholder from taking over the company by gaining a majority interest – a move that many of the company's large, long-hold investors were in favor of.

The firm's share price has failed to reach the same post-launch heights of 2014 when the company joined the Nasdaq. However, earlier this year the company's share price jumped to its best valuation in the last two-and-a-half years. The firm also sourced more funding in July and remains debt-free.

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News




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