RICHMOND — A new Richmond-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company has received a $354 million federal contract to make the active ingredients for more than a dozen medicines used to treat patients with COVID-19.
Phlow Corp., led by a doctor trained at Virginia Commonwealth University and working with the Medicines for All Institute at the VCU College of Engineering, will develop a domestic supply of pharmaceutical ingredients for medicines through advanced manufacturing processes that it says also will lower drug costs.
Phlow is based in the Virginia Bio+Tech Park in downtown Richmond. It was co-founded by CEO Eric Evans, who also was a co-founder of Kaléo, another Richmond-based pharmaceutical development company. VCU professor Frank Gupton is Phlow’s co-founder.
The company's partners also include AMPAC Fine Chemicals, a California-based manufacturer with a facility in Petersburg, and Civica Rx.
"In the midst of this pandemic, American needs a reliable source of high quality, domestically manufactured, affordable pharmaceuticals and their key ingredients," Edwards said in a statement.
The four-year contract has a value up to $812 million, including $458 million in potential options. It was awarded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority under the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"BARDA has long focused on expanding pharmaceutical manufacturing infrastructure in the United Sates, not only to develop and produce vaccines, but also for essential medicines, and their key ingredients to make these drugs," said Dr. Gary Disbrow, acting director of the authority, in an announcement of the contract on Tuesday.
VCU received a $500,000 grant two years ago from GO Virginia, a state economic development initiative, to commercialize research of technology to quickly manufacture affordable supplies of generic drugs.
Under the contract with Phlow, the Medicines for All Institute at the VCU College of Engineering will advanced manufacturing processes to produce the active pharmaceutical ingredients for drugs to treat COVID-19 patients.
"We believe this work can revolutionize America's generic drug manufacturing model by enabling Phlow to produce affordable ingredients used to manufacture essential medicines in the U.S.," said Gupton, who is CEO of the Medicines for All Institute and chairman of the VCU Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering.
Edwards, the company’s CEO, received his medical degree, a doctoral degree in pharmaceutical science and an undergraduate degree in biology at VCU.
His chief of staff is Robby Demeria, who recently joined the company after service as deputy secretary of commerce and trade for technology and innovation under Gov. Ralph Northam. He was instrumental in legislation adopted by the General Assembly this year to create the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority. He formerly was president of the Richmond Technology Council.
The chief financial officer at Phlow is Robert Mooney, a partner at Richmond-based venture capital firm NRV who formerly served as CFO and senior vice president at Ethyl Corp.