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Best Week, Worst Week: Paragon deal a boost for biotech; Md. corrections rocked by indictments

best-wost-042019Maryland’s biotech community earned more credibility this week with the acquisition of one its own in a $1.2 billion deal, while the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup was rocked with the revelation of 20 indictments on racketeering and other charges.

Business writer Tim Curtis reported Monday that University of Maryland BioPark alumni Paragon Bioservices was acquired by Catalent Biologics in a more than $1.2 billion deal, a shot in the arm for Maryland’s startup community and for the state’s growing biotech industry in particular.

Thomas Sadowski, vice chancellor for economic development at the University System of Maryland, called the deal a testament to the kind of value being created in Maryland and market validation of its efforts.

Exits like Paragon’s can bring validation to what wide-ranging bodies such as the state or the university system are doing to spur startup activity in Maryland. It can help bring more capital for startups into the region and keeps capital already in Maryland here.

Paragon’s success gives other local entrepreneurs more examples of people who managed to build businesses to successful exits, whether that is an acquisition or a public offering.

The Paragon acquisition also carries specific validation for Maryland’s biotech industry. Paragon and other growing manufacturers are a significant piece of infrastructure for big drugmakers. That can be especially true for Paragon, which has a head start on the gene therapy market that is expected to reach $25 billion.

Because of Paragon’s position in the field, a lot of the big players in the drug industry had to come to Baltimore and the BioPark and were introduced to the rest of the innovation ecosystem.

Meanwhile, state prison officials are reeling after 20 people were indicted Tuesday on racketeering and other charges.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported federal prosecutors indicted six state corrections employees, seven inmates and seven others as part of cases in which inmates bribed employees or exchanged sex for contraband, including drugs, cellphones, cigarettes and flash drives.

These latest indictments, which continue a series of corruption scandals at state prisons, also highlight holes in technology meant to thwart the smuggling of electronics, weapons and other items.

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the indictments detail truly troubling levels of corruption that permeated the 1,100-inmate Jessup facility from 2014 to the present.

The indictments are the latest in a series of federal prosecutions involving state prisons throughout Maryland, including the Baltimore City Detention Center and Eastern Correctional Institution on the Eastern Shore. As many as 200 corrections officers, inmates, family and friends have been indicted as part of the investigations dating back four years.