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    Monday, July 22, 2024

    Mashantuckets get federal funding to pursue drug-manufacturing operation

    Mashantucket ― A $2.45 million federal grant will enable the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe to develop a business plan to manufacture generic pharmaceuticals that are in short supply, the tribe announced.

    The grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will fund a two-year market analysis and feasibility study.

    Formally referred to as the Reshoring Essential Medicine Manufacturing at Indigenous Nations, or REMIND, the initiative will include development of a STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — curriculum targeting tribal citizens interested in pursuing careers in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and life science.

    REMIND also seeks to build on existing pharmaceutical activity in the region and to strengthen southeastern Connecticut’s economy.

    “Over the last few years, we have focused on diversifying our economy by researching industry sectors that demonstrate strong market potential and that insulate our tribe from economic disruption,” Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, said in a statement. “The critical shortage of generic drugs is a national problem as well as a concern throughout Indian Country.”

    “Based on our initial market research,” Butler said, “the production of these drugs surfaced as having tremendous potential given our existing pharmaceutical experience, the region's emerging economic cluster in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and our valued partnerships with health care organizations throughout New England. This EDA investment will fund feasibility studies to help us define a product mix for critical shortage generic drugs, structure enterprise development, establish our preliminary design and engineering, and develop a series of cost models.”

    Dr. Setu Vora, the Mashantuckets’ chief medical officer, said the project will create about 75 jobs and generate considerable capital investment.

    Earlier this year, Pequot Health Care, the Mashantucket-owned pharmacy health service, began distributing free doses of life-saving naloxone, an anti-opioid being sent out to federally recognized Indian tribes across the country as part of the settlement of tribal lawsuits against Teva Pharmaceuticals, a drugmaker involved in the nation’s massive opioids litigation.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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