The bankruptcy filing in 2014 could have been the end for Dendreon. But seven years later – and three rounds of buying and selling – the company has surfaced again.
In this week, Dendreon announced plans to establish a CMO department to offer end-to-end manufacturing of complex cell therapies. The company’s net worth rose quickly with Provenge, a once promising prostate cancer drug, but fell just as quickly due to the prohibitive manufacturing costs of cell therapy.
Now the company hopes to learn the hard lessons from manufacturing. According to its press release, Dendreon will use its “manufacturing, process development and logistics know-how” to bring clinical facilities to late stage commercialization.
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“Innovative cell therapies have the potential to change the way we treat serious illnesses, but there is insufficient capacity right now to meet anticipated industry demand,” said CEO Jason O’Neill.
Dendreon says it is one of only four companies in the United States that makes cell therapies for commercial use. It started building its capacity within its existing infrastructure in January of this year.
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Its 180,000 square foot facility in Seal Beach, California will serve as the Seattle-based company’s contract manufacturing center. Seattle will host its process development and manufacturing science center.
“With more than a decade of proven cell therapy manufacturing expertise and an established supply chain and logistics infrastructure, we have invested in an offering that meets an immediate market need in this rapidly growing area,” said O’Neill in the press release.
It’s a long way from 2015 when Dendreon’s assets were sold to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for $ 495 million, keeping the company’s supply contracts and workforce intact.
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Two years later, Valeant gave up its stake in Dendreon and sold it to the Chinese Sanpower Group for $ 820 million. A year later, Sanpower sold Dendreon for $ 868 to Nanjing Cenbest, a Chinese retailer focused on healthcare.
The fact that the price of Dendreon continued to rise was a sign of confidence in the positive benefits the company could bring.
Now there is a focus on contract manufacturing.
“We are looking for partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies developing CAR-Ts, autologous or allogeneic cell therapies,” said Maria Cho, Dendreon’s head of business development and corporate strategy, in the press release. Provenge, FDA approved in 2010, is an autologous cell therapy, or one made based on tissue from the patient being treated, compared to allogeneic therapies, which are so-called standard products made from general donor tissue.