Little Durata's relocation plans reap incentives with big staffing promises

Fresh from raising $74 million in an IPO, Durata Therapeutics ($DRTX) is shaking off the dust of Morristown, NJ, and setting a course for Chicago while making big plans for its late-stage antibiotic for skin infections. 

Durata sold the IPO to investors largely on the promise of dalbavancin, an IV antibiotic for skin infections that Pfizer ($PFE) sold for a pittance after its once pricey development efforts reaped a grand total of three CRLs from the FDA.

Durata, though, thinks it can succeed where Pfizer failed. And they're promising economic development officials in Illinois that they can create about 100 biotech jobs inside of three years. In return for a commitment to hold the line at 25 staffers, Durata is getting a $2 million payroll tax credit over 10 years. Dalbavancin is pushing two Phase III studies, and Durata says if it can get positive data in hand it should be on track to file for a new drug approval in the first half of 2013.

This isn't the first time that Durata has been making big promises about its payroll. The biotech announced just a few weeks ago that it's moving R&D to Connecticut, picking up some incentives in that state after vowing to build a research staff of 80. Now its executives want to go home to Chicago.

"Several of our executives have ties to the Chicago area, so the idea of building a biopharmaceutical company in Illinois is important to us," Durata CEO Paul Edick said in a statement. "We also are quite familiar with Illinois' deep talent pool ... (and) look forward to recruiting many experienced employees to join our Chicago-based team."

Durata is burning through its IPO cash quickly. A few days ago it reported that it had spent about $22 million in the third quarter on R&D expenses. At the end of September it had $60.8 million in cash and equivalents on hand. 

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn boasted that the move is a coup for the state's economic development group, which is working on building a biotech hub in Chicago.

"Durata Therapeutics' decision to move to Chicago is a testament to Illinois' role as a hub for biotech innovation," said the governor.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Durata Therapeutics - Top 10 biotech IPOs of 2012

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