July 12, 2017

Protein Sciences CEO says acquisition promises growth

PHOTO | HBJ File
PHOTO | HBJ File
Manon Cox, Protein Sciences CEO.

Protein Sciences CEO Manon M.J. Cox says she spent a decade chasing companies that might better market its flagship flu vaccine, and finally found one this week in Paris pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

"We definitely approached them," Cox told Hartford Business Journal after the $750 million deal was announced. "I do think it's a very good fit. Our team is super excited. I was a little nervous this morning, but for me this was the best partner around."

Cox, who is not yet able to discuss her future status as a result of the acquisition, which has to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission, said it is the culmination of long-term and recent efforts to establish the firm's products in the global market.

The company's eggless flu vaccine Flublok, the only vaccine of its type to be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was approved in 2013. By 2016, it became available in prefilled syringes, she said.

"Two years ago, we hired a banker to help us raise money," Cox said. "In that process, you look at who can help in marketing and sales. We were actively looking for a marketing and sale partner for the last decade. Because we always felt it was going to be really hard in the pharmacy industry to break through."

A major frustration, Cox noted, has been difficulty in getting Flublock to the people who need it.

"We didn't have the resources to market it," she said. "This deal will help us."

The company's 105 employees are expected to continue their work in Meriden and at the Pearl River, N.Y., manufacturing site, Cox said. The bulk of those workers are in Meriden, with about 25 in Pearl River, she added.

"Since the company is being acquired for its technology, if anything, there are going to be more jobs because we have done a lot with a little. I'm definitely planning to stay around and help with the transition."

As for her future role, Cox said she is eager to have one.

"I am confident I can make a major contribution, should that be desired," she said. "I've worked 20 years to get the product out there and I want to see it through to be successful."

The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.

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