AMRI inks a 10-year NIH deal with $37M on the line

In-transition drug developer AMRI ($AMRI) has won a 10-year contract with the National Institutes of Health to help develop and manufacture neurological drugs.

The deal will provide AMRI as much as $37.3 million over its term, a sum dependent on the number of approved products and availability of funds, the company said. In exchange, the Albany, NY, contractor will help the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and its partners craft small-molecule treatments for use in preclinical and clinical studies. That means active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing, drug formulation, analytical testing, packaging, labeling and storage, among other services, AMRI said.

AMRI CEO William Marth

The agreement, part of NIH's Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN), is an outgrowth of AMRI's past work with the group, CEO William Marth said, affirming the contractor's reliability.

"AMRI was selected for this contract award because of our proven track record on projects with NIH and our demonstrated expertise in drug manufacture and formulation, which is enriched by our integrated pharmaceutical services platform," Marth said in a statement. "Since our initial NIH BPN award in 2011, AMRI has provided discovery chemistry services to NINDS and its private sector BPN members on 15 drug candidate programs, and two of these programs have advanced to the stage where a preclinical candidate has been declared, with a third candidate pending."

Meanwhile, AMRI is crawling away from a series of setbacks that have tanked its sales and share price over the last few months. Last quarter, AMRI swung to an $8.6 million net loss on $62.5 million in total revenue, coming in well below what analysts expected. The miss forced AMRI to scale back its ambitions for the rest of 2014, reducing its best-case sales scenario by about 8% to $261 million and cutting its earnings-per-share guidance by 20% to 73 cents. The company has yet to disclose its annual results.

AMRI has spent the past few years working to reduce its dependence on royalty revenue, tied largely to Sanofi's ($SNY) Allegra, focusing instead on contract manufacturing. Earlier this month, the company laid out $60 million for two Aptuit plants, and, last year, AMRI splurged $110 million for Oso Biopharmaceuticals and $41 million for Cedarburg Pharmaceuticals, two outsourcing outfits.

- read the statement

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