Biotech center considers 3 for operator

January 20, 1993|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

The Maryland Bioprocessing Center, designed to nurture small biotech companies, is negotiating with three companies, including a major German pharmaceutical company, that are interested in operating the center.

Boehringer Mannheim, which has facilities in Indianapolis and Rockville, is one of the top choices for the job of running the facility, according to the center's chairwoman, Barbara Plantholt.

In addition, Boehringer had been considering building a $50 million manufacturing center for biotechnology drugs in Indianapolis, but now is looking at several other sites, Ms. Plantholt said. "Speculation is that Maryland may be one of those alternative sites," she said.

Maryland has been attempting to attract a large pharmaceutical company for years, and if Boehringer were to choose Baltimore it would be considered a major plum in the effort to develop a substantial biotechnology industry.

The center, which would be built over the next several years at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Research Campus in East Baltimore, would be operated by a private corporation but would receive most of its funding from the state.

The corporation, the Maryland Bioprocessing Center Corp., expects to lease the building to one of the companies while maintaining some control over its operation to help guarantee access to the facility by local companies.

The center's board of directors is also negotiating with Verax, a New Hampshire company involved in contract manufacturing.

The third company being considered is Bio Science Contract Production Corp., a small Beltsville company started in 1991 that is in the business of providing contract manufacturing for other pharmaceutical companies.

The bioprocessing center is designed to help small biotechnology companies take their products from the laboratory to the drug-testing stage. A company would lease space in the facility for a short time while it manufactured enough of a drug to do the human clinical trials needed to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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