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Calif. biotech moving to Mass.

Plans to hire 100 at Cambridge site

Former Genzyme executive John P. Butler is Inspiration Pharmaceutical’s new CEO.

Cambridge is about to gain another promising biotechnology company.

Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals Inc., a seven-year-old California start-up working to bring a pair of hemophilia drugs to market in the United States and Europe in the next two years, will set up shop at One Kendall Square next month.

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It plans to have 100 employees by the end of 2012, and 150 or more a year later, in space once occupied by Genzyme Corp. and Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The company’s new chief executive, John P. Butler, 47, a former Genzyme senior executive who was recruited earlier this year to lead Inspiration, said moving it to Cambridge will help attract talented scientists and salespeople as Inspiration transitions from a virtual firm that farmed out its research to a commercial organization.

“We’re building a fully integrated company,’’ Butler said yesterday. “Ultimately, we’re a bricks-and-mortar company as of Jan. 1. Going forward, Cambridge is our address. We expect to have two products on the market in the second half of 2013.’’

Ipsen plans to invest $45 million in a Milford plant that will produce one of Inspiration’s hemophilia drugs.

Nicolas Retsinas Harvard University
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Another driver of the move to the East Coast from Laguna Niguel in California’s Orange County was putting Inspiration closer to Ipsen Group, a French specialty pharmaceutical company that owns 40 percent of Inspiration and may boost its stake in the future. Ipsen also has struck an agreement that will let it sell Inspiration’s first hemophilia drug, currently under review by European regulators, in that market.

Ipsen itself is raising its profile in Massachusetts. The company, which is relocating its US headquarters from Brisbane, Calif., to Bridgewater, N.J., last week said it plans to invest $45 million in a Milford research and manufacturing plant that will produce one of Inspiration’s hemophilia drugs. Ipsen added 40 jobs in Milford in 2011, and plans to create another 20 to 50 positions over the next five years.

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“We are very pleased with our presence in Massachusetts, and we’re investing to expand there,’’ Ipsen chief executive Marc de Garidel said, noting hemophilia is a new focus for his company. “Having Inspiration close by is a good thing.’’

De Garidel said Ipsen has an option to eventually buy Inspiration if it meets a series of milestones for the two treatments it is shepherding. One works to prevent bleeding in people with hemophilia B, the other treats bleeding in a rare and life-threatening disorder called acquired hemophilia.

Inspiration is expected to disclose today that it is moving to Cambridge. It is also set to say it has hired four key executives: chief medical officer Dr. Howard Levy, chief commercial officer Daniel Regan, general counsel Nikki Hadas, and vice president Karen Tubridy, who will head the launch team for Inspiration’s first treatment.

Patrick administration officials have been wooing foreign companies as part of their push to bolster the life sciences sector in Massachusetts. At the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual convention in Washington last June, Governor Deval Patrick and Susan R. Windham-Bannister, president of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, met with Ipsen executives about enlarging their state operations.

“The governor made a convincing case that Massachusetts is committed to its life sciences cluster,’’ Windham-Bannister said. “One reason companies are expanding here is because of the collaborations they can have with the academic institutions.’’

Ipsen’s ties with Massachusetts date to December 2008, when the life sciences center awarded a $250,000 cooperative research matching grant to Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a research project sponsored by Ipsen subsidiary Biomeasure Inc.

Butler, the former president of personalized genetic health at Cambridge biotech Genzyme - which pioneered partnerships with patient communities - said he was drawn to Inspiration partly because it was founded by the families of two children with hemophilia.

Cofounders Scott Martin, a Houston-based oil and gas executive, and John Taylor, a foreign currency exchange trader in New York, later raised money from angel investors and Celtic Pharma Management, a private equity firm focused on biopharmaceuticals, before striking their strategic partnership with Ipsen last year.

Inspiration applied in October for approval of its first drug, for hemophilia B, in Europe and plans to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration in the first half of 2012 to bring it to market in the United States. If approved, the drug will compete with Benefix, a Pfizer Inc. medication already on the market. Weston-based Biogen Idec Inc. is also developing a hemophilia drug that would compete in that market.

Robert Weisman can be reached at weisman@globe.com.

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