MONSANTO's $150 MIL. LIFE SCIENCES RESEARCH CENTER
MONSANTO's $150 MIL. LIFE SCIENCES RESEARCH CENTER, dedicated in opening ceremonies Oct. 24 in Chesterfield, Mo., further indentifies the chemical company as one of the major research-participants-in-search-of-a-marketing-arm for the U.S. drug industry. The new center "contains more than 900,000 sq. ft. of space for research and development, augmenting a similar research facility at the company's nearby headquarters site," Monsanto said in press material on the dedication. "About 600 scientists and supporting personnel will be working at the facilities by spring of 1985, and that number will double by the end of 1987," the firm predicted. The human health care segment of the center will be occupied in December. Human health care research will focus "on discovery and production of proteins and new pharmaceuticals." Monsanto highlighted work being carried out in conjunction with Washington University on atrial peptides as diuretics in material prepared for the opening of the center. Initial findings, the company said, "suggest that atrial peptides may be involved in maintaining proper blood pressure in animals." Monsanto signed a $23.5 mil. agreement with the university in 1982 as a successor to initial joint efforts begun in 1976. Monsanto has been making all the preliminary moves for the development of a drug business. In addition to research agreements with Washington University, Collagen Corp., and Biogen, the firm has been putting together a group of experienced drug executives to support and manage any expansion effort. The health care division at Monsanto is run by former W-L/Squibb exec Charles Faden. The firm also recruited the director of pharmaceutical development from Sandoz, Alan Timms, PhD, in early 1984. In January of this year, Monsanto bought its first on-going drug business, the Belgian firm, Continental Pharma. From that purchase, the chemical company received an anti-senility product, Sulocton (suloctidil). That product, already marketed overseas, is scheduled to be in Phase II U.S. trials by the end of 1984. Trade sources believe that Monsanto may also have several NDAs already filed with FDA for approval. Monsanto's President Richard Mahoney told New York analysts a year ago that the company was working at health care "based on our developing biotechnology skills." The overlapping interests of biotechnology work in plant genetics, agricultural research and pharmaceuticals provides one incentive for renewed interest by chemical firms in the drug area. Dow's success in re-invigorating the Merrell research and marketing effort provides further encouragement that the barriers to entry into the field by a chemical company may be diminishing. Monsanto has set a goal for changing the company into a business roughly divided into three equal parts (biological) sciences, chemicals, and fabricated goods/process controls/oil and gas) by 1990. The 900,000 sq. ft. in the new research center will be divided between an agricultural/plant growth facility (406,000 sq. ft.), a 456,000 sq. ft. main center with human health care facility and offices/library etc., and a bioprocess development facility for fermentation work (50,000 sq. ft.).
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