Agreement could revive medical radioisotopes plant shuttered in 2009
NuView Life Sciences announced this week an exclusive licensing agreement with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., a global health care company based in Tokyo, that could eventually lead to the reopening of a Denton medical radioisotopes plant.
Otsuka will provide financial backing for future clinical trials and commercialization of a biomarker that research has shown can more accurately detect breast and prostate cancers, according to a press release from NuView. The biomarker is being developed by NuView and Dr. Mathew Thaker of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
While NuView is based in Park City, Utah, its manufacturing subsidiary, U.S. Radiopharmaceuticals, is located in Denton. Otsuka intends to use the Denton plant in the clinical trials and commercialization of the biomarkers, according to the press release.
Paul Crowe, president of NuView, said the company is in meetings now to the set up the clinical trials.
“In eight to nine months, we should be ready to go,” Crowe said.
In other words, if financing and procedures go as planned, the plant could be reopened and making medical radioisotopes next year.
The company’s local attorney, Mike Whitten, said the agreement includes operating capital NuView needs to pay some past-due bills, including property taxes, and to start up again, he said.
Until early 2009, another company, Trace Life Sciences, made medical radioisotopes at the plant on Shady Oaks Drive and at another location on Jim Christal Road. Trace acquired the Denton facilities from International Isotopes, a group of local scientists that secured the linear accelerator from the Texas Superconducting Super Collider after the Legislature pulled the plug on the research project.
In September 2008, Trace’s financier, Medical Capital, put Crowe in charge of the plant. Soon after, Medical Capital collapsed, triggering an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A court-appointed receiver alleged that Medical Capital was a Ponzi-like scheme that had taken about $1 billion from 12,000 investors. Medical Capital’s president eventually pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Although the Denton plant was not implicated in the federal investigation, it was swept into federal receivership along with Medical Capital.
Crowe and NuView secured the property out of federal receivership in December 2011. He hoped to reopen the plant by January 2013, but the weak economy and other factors slowed progress, including the fact that the plant has not been manufacturing since 2009, Crowe has said.
In the interim, NuView has been storing low-level radioactive waste in the warehouse on Shady Oaks Drive. The linear accelerator also is radioactive, but contained, in a subterranean concrete tunnel in the building next door. State inspections have shown no levels of concern outside the plant on Shady Oaks or the site on Jim Christal Road, where other manufacturing equipment is stored.
NuView had stood as the city’s and school district’s largest delinquent taxpayer at the time of the licensing agreement. Some of the interest and penalties dated from 2008 and the company faced foreclosure in the case last year.
Following the announcement of the deal Wednesday, Crowe and NuView wired a $750,000 payment to Sawko & Burroughs, a local law firm representing the city and school district in the collection case. Another law firm represents the county.
Lawyer Greg Sawko said they immediately distributed the payment, which represents close to half of what the company owes, to the taxing entities.
“I’m sure they’re thrilled to death,” Sawko said of those taxing entities.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.