Mike Sieron, president and chief operating officer at Washington Twp.’s P&C Pharma, shows a bottle of flavored, liquid medicine that has just gone through the company’s proprietary process. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
Photo: Thomas Gnau/Staff
Photo: Thomas Gnau/Staff

Science and health booming in Ohio thanks to area companies

‘The Midwest has got it going on, and we’re part of that’

New health care and biosciences innovations in this region are helping add high-paying jobs and getting Ohio recognized by investors.

Midwest health care companies drew $1.7 billion in new equity investments in 2016, according to the just-released BioEnterprise Midwest Healthcare growth capital report.

“A record 375 Midwest healthcare companies raised the second largest amount in recorded history, edging within $60 million to the record-breaking 2014 year,” the report said.

Ohio was among the leading Midwest states, with $291 million invested in health companies, just below Minnesota ($424 million) and Illinois ($327 million).

Among the companies getting attention by investors is a small Washington Twp. start-up called P&C Pharma.

There, founder and chief executive Joe D’Silva has invented a process for compounding and liquefying medicines for patients who have trouble swallowing solid pills and capsules.

The process involves a proprietary machine that spins and mixes four cylinders of medicine simultaneously, perhaps making obsolete the pharmacist’s’s mortar and pestle of old.

The company is very new, and in fact, D’Silva has been traveling, nailing down distribution arrangements for the company’s products, said Mike Sieron, P&C’s president and chief operating officer, as well as a trustee of BioOhio, a non-profit that represents more than 300 employers, research institutions, universities and others.

Sieron is not surprised that the region is getting noticed in bioscience and health investments.

“You see a lot of these companies coming up,” he said. “The Midwest has got it going on right now, and we’re part of it.”

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Drew Cook, project and content manager for BioOhio, said Ohio has a number of strengths going for it in attracting health and bioscience investments. The state is “conducive” to growing a business and has a concentration of universities and research institutions.

“I think Ohio has been noticed for quite a while,” Cook said.

Other regional firms mentioned in the BioEnterprise report: Genetesis, which is expected to soon open offices in Mason, and Relevium Labs, an Oxford company that says it has developed a device that helps a woman to gain control of urinary incontinence without surgery or drugs.

“Any mother can use it while breast feeding, making dinner, doing the mass loads of laundry, or conquering the world,” Brent Reider, president of Relevium, said.

Aram Nerpouni, president and CEO of BioEnterprise, said there’s a diversity of activity going on in the Midwest, and he expects good things to keep happening.

“I think overall the Midwest has been known as a medical device region because of legacy manufacturing there,” he said.

The region is also seeing growth in health IT — probably the region’s fastest growing biosciences sector — as well as pharma, he said.

At some point there will be a ceiling on this growth, Nerpouni said. But he believes the region is “under-indexed” in this area, compared at least to the East and West coasts.

“Health care remains a growing part of the economy overall, and therefore it will attract a growing share of investment dollars,” he said.

Elsewhere, pharmaceuticals manufacturer Alkermes intends to add more than 90 jobs, $5.3 million of payroll, to its existing Wilmington workforce of 400, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority recently said.

The company develops and manufactures pharmaceuticals for major clinical conditions such as schizophrenia, addiction and depression. The company is also known for developing Vivitrol, a medication for the treatment of alcohol and opioid dependence.

The Wilmington expansion will enable greater production of Vivitrol, said Kristen Parr, Alkermes vice president and general manager.

“At this time, we are focusing our efforts on the location and construction of the expansion, with anticipated hiring to commence in 2019,” Parr said in an email.

NuVasive, a spinal implants company based in San Diego, is building a West Carrollton workforce of 300 people to produce spinal implants and related devices in a $45 million Liberty Lane facility.

In Dayton, medical device manufacturer Norwood Medical has quietly expanded for years. Most recently, an affiliate of the company bought the former Goodwill Industries property at 1511 Kuntz Road.

The former Goodwill location is near Norwood’s facility off Winners Circle. The building had been marketed as a possible office or warehouse building with 40,000 square feet of space. Norwood already has several buildings in the area.

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