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Israeli APIs to the Rescue of Drug Manufacturers

An Israeli biomed startup that makes key building blocks for pharmaceuticals was just bought out by a big U.S. concern.
By TechIsrael Staff
First Publish: 12/27/2011, 3:41 PM

Drugs
Drugs
Morguefile

Florida-based Opko Health last week announced that it was buying Israel's FineTech Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a unique player in the pharmaceutical market that helps pharmaceutical makers bring their products to market more quickly, avoiding bureaucratic and patent pitfalls. FineTech, located in the northern community of Nesher, makes, among other things, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), unique basic building blocks used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Using the APIs, pharmaceutical makers can bypass a great deal of research and development, bringing their products to market much more quickly.

FineTech also develops “by-passes” to process and polymorph patents, developing other methods for delivery of drugs to the body that do not infringe on existing patents. In many cases, drugs receive patents for only one form of delivery, with a crystal or solid, for example, having different dissolution rates. The differences, though subtle, are sufficient in many cases to allow a manufacturer to successfully apply for a new patent for existing chemical processes. FineTech has a large staff of experts who have developed innovative methods to overcome patent issues by developing new polymorphs. Besides all this, FineTech also offers a full range of services from paper chemistry and laboratory scale development to pilot scale and commercial production, essentially able to take a drug from paper to product.

Opko Health is a specialty pharmaceutical manufacturer, which develops a range of products, concentrating largely on commercialization of proprietary pharmaceuticals, drug delivery technologies, diagnostic systems, and instruments for the treatment, diagnosis, and management of ophthalmic disorders. The company is directed by Dr. Phillip Frost, who is also Chairman of the Board of Teva Pharmaceuticals. The Miami-based company will pay $27.5 million to buy FineTech, paying $10 million in cash and the rest in Opko stock.

Dr. Arie L. Gutman, President and CEO of FineTech, has had a long history in pharmaceuticals. FineTech was established by Gutman in 1990, and possesses proprietary technology and confidential expertise in several important and unconventional areas of organic synthesis. FineTech operates in a 35,000 sq. feet, 6 building campus facility, equipped with state-of-the-art laboratory, production and quality control equipment. "My colleagues and I are very excited to become part of the OPKO family and look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await us," Gutman said. "We expect continued growth of revenues and profits from existing products and those in development. Our ability to develop novel processes for making complex synthetic molecules will make us a very productive and valued contributor to the OPKO business." Gutman will continue to serve as CEO of FineTech following the acquisition.