As PhIII data looms, Nektar sets the stage for a big expansion

This is a big year for San Francisco-based Nektar Therapeutics ($NKTR). And the company is making some big expansion plans, telling the local San Francisco Business Times that it has lined up a new lease on extra space as it sets the stage for adding up to 150 staffers.

The company is partnered with AstraZeneca ($AZN) on Movantik, which was approved last fall and goes on sale soon for constipation spurred by opioids. AstraZeneca has insisted that the drug, which inspired a $1.5 billion deal with Nektar, should go on to win blockbuster status. Baxter ($BAX) is set to launch a hemophilia A drug that will spin off royalties to Nektar. And the Big Kahuna is Phase III breast cancer data for NKTR-102, which could be released in a matter of weeks.

As the Business Times notes, Nektar already has 425 staffers, including 250 at the Mission Bay biotech complex. Now it's adding 20,000 square feet of space from Alexandria Real Estate that had initially been intended to accommodate a Pfizer ($PFE) project aimed at doing discovery work with UCSF. That deal, though, fell through, leaving some ample room for Nektar to move.

Nektar developed 102 with its in-house polymer technology platform, billing the drug as the "first long-acting topoisomerase I-inhibitor designed to concentrate in tumor tissue, provide sustained tumor suppression throughout the entire chemotherapy cycle, and to reduce the peak exposures that are associated with toxicities of other cytotoxics."

Image removed.Nektar CEO Howard Robin

Its success in the clinic would set the stage for Nektar to make a major shift, adding marketing operations and opening the door to new opportunities.

"If 102 is successful and you go into oncology, you have to have medical, regulatory and sales and marketing," CEO Howard Robin told the business weekly.

- here's the story from the San Francisco Business Times

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