Frontida BioPharm Inc., an Exton-based affiliate of China-based Tigermed's Frontage Laboratories Inc., has purchased the former Mutual Pharmaceuticals drug production plants in Northeast Philadelphia's Juniata and Burholm neighborhoods, from India-based owner Sun Pharmeceuticals.
At the time, URL claimed 500 employees plus 350 outside salespeople. But the separation from Takeda and Colcrys put its future in doubt, as my colleague David Sell wrote here.
Frontida sees opportunity to add products and staff. "I went to Drexel, I lived my whole life in Philadelphia, and I really want to see this company succeed," Connolly told me.
"Ron Connolly is really interested in developing this industry," John Grady, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., told me. He said PIDC typically lends up to $40,000 per job "created and retained," and that Frontida seeks to support and expand "logistics, distribution, redevelopment and equipment purchase." It's a "very typical investment for us, particularly in the manufacturing sector." PIDC is co-owned by the city and its chamber of commerce.
Grady compared Frontida to Wuxi, the China-based pharma giant that purchased Philadelphia's Navy Yard-based Apptec Labororatory Services in 2008, and has been expanding there ever since. Besides Apptec's orginal 75,000 sf building (built by Liberty Property Trust in 2006), Wuxi has added a 46,000 sf manufacturing plant and is constructing a third 145,000 R&D and manufacturing center. Wuxi does contract research and production, focusing particularly on T-cell manufacturing, immunotherapy, genetics.
Wuxi and Frontida are signs of Philadelphia's strength at Penn, CHOP and other research hospitals. "We have worldwide leading scientists developing these therapies and the flow of dollars is a result," Grady told me. Penn's . flow of dollars as a result.