Intarcia to double to 800 employees as it moves into new digs

Intarcia's implantable drug delivery system for Type 2 diabetes--Courtesy of Intarcia

Intarcia is looking to boost its employee count to 400 by the end of this year, and to 800 in 2017 as it preps to move into a new 47,000-square-foot headquarters next month, the Boston Business Journal reported. It currently has 70 employees at its Boston location, with more than 200 total.

The company is developing an implantable drug delivery system for Type 2 diabetes. Dubbed the Medici Drug Delivery System, the device is a matchstick-sized osmotic pump implanted beneath the skin. It is intended to continuously deliver ITCA 650, a form of exenatide that is stable at body temperature, and needs to be replaced only once or twice a year.

Intarcia completed Phase III trials for the device this year and presented the full results of its FREEDOM-2 trial at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting Sunday. The 535-patient trial pitted Intarcia's device against Merck's ($MRK) blockbuster Januvia. After one year, patients treated with ITCA 650 had a double the glycated hemoglobin reduction observed in Januvia patients. ITCA 650 patients also lost an average of 9 pounds after one year, three times what Januvia patients lost.

Intarcia previously said that it expects to submit the device to the FDA this quarter. And last month, it raised $75 million in debt to ramp up manufacturing and increase inventory ahead of a global launch. Before that, Intarcia bumped up a synthetic royalty and equity convertible financing to $300 million last June, which valued the company at $5.5 billion.

The company touts the Medici's continuous and consistent delivery of exenatide as a solution for the poor patient adherence that has dogged diabetes therapies. This could give the treatment an edge over other diabetes meds, including a version of exenatide marketed by AstraZeneca ($AZN) as Bydureon and Byetta.

"Key barriers to achieving and sustaining glycemic targets in type 2 diabetes have been related to sub-optimal efficacy of some medicines, poor adherence and the lack of persistence with therapy over time--whether pills or injections," said Dr. Julio Rosenstock, the lead investigator of the FREEDOM-2 trial, in a statement. "An innovative treatment like ITCA 650 may soon provide the type 2 diabetes community with a critical new tool that can ensure treatment compliance for periods of six months, and eventually up to one year, to help many patients reach and sustain their individual glycemic goals."

- read more from the Boston Business Journal
- here's a statement about the FREEDOM-2 trial

Editor's note: This story was corrected to distinguish between the Medici Drug Delivery System from ITCA 650, the drug it delivers. It previously stated that the Medici device had been called ITCA 650. It also misstated the number of people Intarcia employs.