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SurModics mulls pharma biz sale

By Gareth MacDonald+, 15-Dec-2010

Related topics: Delivery technologies, Ingredients, Mergers and acquisitions

SurModics said it may sell its pharmaceutical unit to focus on its medical device platform, I-vation delivery system and diagnostics businesses.

In a statement today, the US firm said it “to explore strategic alternatives” for its pharmaceutical unit, which was established in 2007 through the acquisition of Brookwood Pharmaceuticals.

Chairman Robert Buhrmaster said divestiture of the division, which makes microparticle and implant tech at its facility in Alabama, will allow SurModics to pursue opportunities and investments in medical devices and diagnostics.

The sale strategy is one of several business upheavals SurModics has undergone this year, beginning in March when it unveiled plans to refocus operations into separate research, product development and sales and marketing units.

This was followed, in June, by the departure of CEO Bruce Barclay, under who’s tenure the pharmaceutical unit was set up and both Brookwood and ophthalmology firm BioFX Laboratories were acquired.

And at first the investments seemed to be working with, most significantly in its deal with US drug major Merck & Co in 2007 that earned the firm a $20m upfront license payment.

However, the following year Merck pulled the plug on the collaboration, significantly impacting SuModics revenue in 2008. This decline continued in subsequent years with the firm reporting losses for all but its ophthalmology unit in 2009.

More recently, SurModics announced plans to cut its workforce and reorganise its operations into medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and in vitro diagnostics units after sales and profits continued to decline.

New CEO

In a separate statement SurModics announced the appointment of Gary Maharaj as its new CEO, replacing Phil Ankeny who has held the post on an interim basis since Barclay’s departure.

Maharaj, who will take over on December 27, previously served as CEO of Arizant, a firm that makes products used to maintain the body temperature of patients during surgical procedures.

The appointment came days after SurModics said it does not intend to make a recommendation on three candidates nominated for election to its board of directors by shareholder group Ramius.