Douglas Pharmaceuticals has officially opened a $50m R&D facility in West Auckland and unveiled new research into treatments for inflammatory bowel disease and the condition which causes cervical cancer.
The family-owned pharmaceutical firm is investing heavily in repurposing existing drugs to treat a range of serious illnesses.
It has begun researching a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease using an old blood cancer drug called thioguanine, based on work by Otago University.
The research is still at an early stage and is yet to go through a phase one trial.
It is further advanced on a treatment for cervical dysplasia, the precancerous condition where abnormal cells grow in the cervix and which usually requires surgery.
Its researchers are working on old antiviral drugs used to treat HIV, and hope to develop a self-administered pessary which can suppress the virus causing the abnormal cells.
The company’s R&D arm, Douglas Innovation, works with university researchers and medical doctors around the world, managing director Jeff Douglas said.
“They translate this research into formulations and manage clinical studies that assess safety and effectiveness in a small number of patients.
“We will eventually out-licence those results to larger pharmaceuticals for commercialisation.”
The Douglas Innovation centre has been granted GMP status by Medsafe
New innovation centre
Douglas Pharmaceuticals has built the new 4500-sqm innovation centre at its Henderson site.
Its state-of-the-art facilities include pilot scale product development suites and commercial manufacturing rooms, and it has a separate waste system to capture cytotoxic waste which currently cannot be processed in New Zealand.
Government medicines authority Medsafe granted the laboratories good manufacturing practice (GMP) status in June.
Douglas Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1967 by Jeff Douglas’ father Sir Graeme Douglas and remains 100% owned by the NBR Lister family.
The company expected to turn over around $230m this year, Jeff Douglas said.