AMRI signs on to help Saneca develop opium-based drugs

AMRI's George Svokos

Contract drugmaker AMRI ($AMRI) signed a deal with Italy's Saneca Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on opium-derived treatments, pairing up with eyes on the U.S. market for controlled substances.

Under the agreement, Saneca will draw on its experience extracting opiates from plant biomass, supplying intermediates to help AMRI develop more than two dozen active pharmaceutical ingredients, the companies said. From there, AMRI will scout for clients and, depending on demand, push the resulting APIs through FDA review. If any are approved, AMRI will handle manufacturing at its DEA-approved facility, and the companies have agreed to share revenue on any marketed products.

"This alliance allows us to not only expand our portfolio of controlled substance APIs, but it also allows us to be fully integrated with a competitive cost structure," AMRI Chief Commercial Officer George Svokos said in a statement.

The agreement comes amid AMRI's across-the-board push to focus on manufacturing and move away from drug discovery. The company has been gradually dialing down its CRO work and investing in drug production, buying three companies over the past year to bolster its manufacturing presence.

And the change in strategy is beginning to pay off. Last quarter the company turned a profit for the first time in a year, and revenue grew 31% thanks to a 10-fold increase in manufacturing dollars.

- read the statement

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