New Zealand Pharmaceuticals acquires Dextra Laboratories

Palmerston North, New Zealand, 3 September 2009—New Zealand Pharmaceuticals Ltd (“NZP”) has purchased Dextra Laboratories which was a UK subsidiary of the drug development company Summit plc. Dextra’s primary business is the design and synthesis of complex carbohydrates that are of importance to drug development companies.

New Zealand Pharmaceuticals (NZP) has been manufacturing high purity biochemicals since 1971 from its base in Palmerston North, New Zealand. The company's products are either extracted and purified from natural raw materials or synthesised small molecules. Products include bile acids, glycosaminoglycans, protein hydrolysates, amino acids, sugars and a range of plant-derived products, most notably blackcurrant extracts under its “Just the Berries” brand.

The acquisition extends NZP’s offering to the global market with  the inclusion of Dextra’s catalogue of carbohydrates and derivatives,   and the addition of  medicinal and pre-clinical contract synthesis capabilities and cGMP contract manufacturing up to Phase I clinical trial scale.  Dr Richard Garland, Managing Director of NZP said “This will complement NZP’s existing Phase II to full-scale manufacturing of carbohydrates, polysaccharides and bile acids, providing a single seamless link from discovery to full scale cGMP manufacture”.

The acquisition significantly enhances NZP’s product development and small scale GMP manufacturing base by the addition of 20 technical staff including 12 PhD chemists.  This   will enable NZP to provide glycotherapeutic products based on simple sugars and their derivatives, glycoconjugates, oligosaccharides and iminosugars. NZP’s new drug development services will be marketed and promoted to the customer bases of both companies and to the broader pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets.

Dr Garland went on to say “The acquisition of Dextra Laboratories is about enhancing the product range and capabilities of NZP by offering customers a full package of drug development and production services to enable our customers to reduce time to market”

Steven Lee, PhD, Chief Executive Officer at Summit said, “Summit believes NZP offers the best strategic fit for the Dextra business and provides the best opportunity to realise the potential of Dextra and its employees”

NZP is a private company, owned 51% by Direct Capital (a leading New Zealand private equity and venture capital firm) and BioPacific Ventures, with the remaining 49% of shares held by NZP management and staff.             
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 About Dextra

Based at the Science and Technology Centre at the University of Reading, in Berkshire, United Kingdom, Dextra is a specialist chemistry and analytical services business with a strong process development and GMP manufacturing capability. As well as custom synthesis services, Dextra provides a range of over 1000 catalogue products including carbohydrate building blocks and combinatorial libraries. Their recently opened cGMP facility enables the supply of material for early phase clinical trials.The company has also developed a strong IP position comprising both extensive know-how and patents in a number of areas; most notably its blood group antigen products which are finding application in plasma purification and organ transplantation. 

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About Summit plc 

Summit plc is a UK based drug discovery company with a major focus on developing new therapeutics from its iminosugar drug discovery platform.

Summit believes iminosugars are the key to gaining access to several disease mechanisms where classical drug candidates have had little success, and therefore offer a major opportunity for the discovery and development of new medicines. Carbohydrates play critical roles in maintaining correct function of many normal processes in healthy individuals and provide a wealth of new targets for drug discovery.  Iminosugars have the capability of accessing such targets and offer the potential of generating new medicines in a variety of major therapy areas.  Summit is currently focussed on metabolic diseases, including diabetes, and anti-virals.

Commercially, Summit has a track record of signing programme agreements and currently has an out-licensed product portfolio comprising of seven drug programmes with BioMarin, Orient Europharma, Evolva and the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative.  In the future these programmes may generate success based milestone payments and royalties for Summit.

The company listed on the alternative investment market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in October 2004 - symbol: SUMM.  Further information about the company is available at

For specific information regarding the Dextra acquisition, please contact:

Dr Richard Garland – Managing Director

Email: [email protected]

Tel +64 (0)6 9523800

For New Zealand Pharmaceuticals Ltd business enquiries, please contact:                                                                         
Selwyn Yorke, PhD – Business Development Manager

Mike Callagher – Commercial Manager

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +64 (0)6 9523800

For Dextra Laboratories business enquiries, please contact:
Alex Weymouth-Wilson, PhD – Director R&D

Jim Beaumont – Sales Director

Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)118 935 7000