Cingulate Therapeutics: Reverse-engineered from NJ to KC

The Kansas City region has become known as a great place to found and grow bioscience startups, but it often competes to keep those companies here as they’re drawn to the big money and the big bio of the coasts.

That’s why it’s unusual that one entrepreneur is hoping to move his pharmaceutical startup from New Jersey — the “Medicine Chest of the World” — and relocate it to the Midwest.

Cingulate Therapeutics CEO Shane Schaffer is a Kansas boy, originally from Hays. He recently moved to Kansas City to give the growing company a foothold in the region.

He maintains an office at the Bioscience Technology Business Center on theUniversity of Kansas Medical Center campus along with his dog, Roscoe. But the rest of Cingulate’s eight-person leadership team is scattered throughout the country in Memphis, Houston, New York and New Jersey.

But for Schaffer, this is home. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy and started his career with Hoechst Marion Roussel in Kansas City before moving east to work with Pfizer and Novartis.

Now, he has a vision of building his company here.

“I really like the idea of a centrally based pharmaceutical company that is in research and development and commercialization,” Schaffer said. “And I know Kansas City has the ability to support that type of organization.”

Cingulate is developing two drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It’s an $8 billion-a-year market in the United States, but it’s already crowded with a number of well-known ADHD drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin.

Schaffer said Cingulate is betting it can differentiate itself by developing the drugs more cheaply and formulating them so they take effect immediately and last for the appropriate time of day.

The company marked off a huge milestone at the end of September, when it signed a deal with Catalent Pharma Solutions, one of the world’s leading drug developers. Catalent signed an exclusive development and licensing agreement and will formulate Cingulate’s products at its New Jersey facility.

Next, Cingulate will look into starting human clinical trials for its drugs, which Schaffer hopes will get to market in about three years. It is raising money to fund those trials.

“We really are poised for very rapid growth from a human (drug development) perspective,” Schaffer said, noting that the company hopes to bring on 15 to 20 “highly skilled, highly paid” employees during the next year.

The company has to remain open and flexible at this point about where and how it will grow, he said, but his personal relocation to Kansas City should serve as an indication about where he hopes it will land.

“It comes down to a couple of things — the ability to attract and retain top talent is big — and I know Kansas City has that ability,” he said. “It also comes down to working with communities that will allow us to have a partnership. We want to be a partner to the community, but also we want the community to help partner with us. So it’s that symbiotic relationship that allows a company to grow organically.”

And although his hope is to grow a company in Kansas City, it’s possible that somebody else could buy the company’s assets. In that event, Schaffer said he and his leadership team would have to be strategic because they owe a fiduciary duty to shareholders to maximize the value of the company.

Schaffer said that in next decade, he hopes to be well on his way to expanding the company. He said he hopes to have commercialized the two products it’s already working on with others in development.

“What I would love to see, and this is very aspirational, but I’d really love to see the Kansas City area become a major player in pharmaceuticals again,” he said. “We’re very strong in animal health. That’s fantastic, and that will continue. But I’d really like to add to that human pharmaceutical aspect over the next 10 years.”

 

Original article can be found at:  http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2014/10/08/cingulate-therapeutics-reverse-engineered-from-nj.html?page=all