- Advanced Accelerator Applications plans to build a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Indianapolis as Novartis, the French drugmaker's parent company, continues its expansion into nuclear medicine.
- Located in Purdue Research Park, the plant will manufacture radioligand therapies, a growing area of medicine that includes Advanced Accelerator's cancer treatment Lutathera.
- Operations at the site are slated to begin in 2023, according to a June 30 statement announcing the sales and purchase agreement for the land.
The focus on nuclear medicine is part of Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan's larger bet on cutting-edge technology to drive the Swiss drugmaker's future. Oncology is already one of Novartis's biggest businesses, and the company has shown a willingness to spend billions of dollars to become a leader in radioligand therapies, designed to precisely target and destroy tumors.
The Swiss drugmaker completed two major acquisitions in this area in 2017 and 2018, first buying Advanced Accelerator for $3.9 billion and then picking up Indiana-based Endocyte for $2.1 billion. Endocyte has an experimental radioligand therapy that targets prostate cancer.
Building a plant in Indiana is a bet on an expanding U.S. market for Lutathera and other cancer treatments in the pipeline. The complex therapies must be delivered to patients within a few days of production, making a larger U.S. production footprint useful, as well as the site's location nearby the Indianapolis airport.
Targeted radioligand therapy features a radioactive particle to bind to markers expressed by tumors. It's designed to block further tumor growth and replication, while sparing the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
Lutathera won Food and Drug Administration approval in January 2018 to treat gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. It tallied sales of $112 million in the first quarter of 2020.