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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
November 11, 2012 | Tom Ballard

IPE story is a history of the family over several decades

(EDITOR’S NOTE: IPE is the only East Tennessee-based company participating in this week’s “Business Competition” that is part of  Life Science TN’s annual meeting in Nashville.)

“Our story goes back decades and decades and decades,” Eric Latham, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IPE, Inc., says.

In a recent interview with, the head of the Kingsport-based company said that IPE is really a history of his family. His grandfather was a bench chemist and inventor as was Eric’s father.

“Science runs in our veins,” he says, adding that his initial major at Virginia Tech was biology before he switched to journalism. One year after graduation, the then 22-year old Latham was head producer of a midday television show on the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas.

The career sidetrack did not last long. Three years later, Latham quit the job and made a commitment to walk across the country – from Nags Head, NC to San Francisco – raising money for the American Cancer Society. The 206-day, 3,591 mile walk was not just about research, but personally-driven. His mother is a cancer survivor.

The experience did cause his interest in research to increase and, as he worked with his father to elevate the visibility of the latter’s work, the younger Latham developed the business plan for IPE. He describes it as “an innovative, family-owned and operated, pharmaceutical drug discovery and development company.”

IPE is divided into two divisions – pharmaceuticals and health and beauty – and includes one subsidiary company in each division – BCT303, LLC (pharmaceuticals) and New River Naturals, Inc. (health and beauty). Latham describes the prescription drug division as “a pipeline of pre-clinical drugs” that owns four patents for platform technologies that have shown to be effective in a number of therapeutic areas – central nervous system, oncology, gastro-intestinal, endocrinology, cardiology, wound-healing and dermatology.

The other – New River Naturals – is releasing its first line of skin care products for the over-the-counter market. They include an anti-aging moisturizing cream and an eye lift serum in addition to DL-9, its ninth generation arthritis and joint salve.

Latham will present IPE’s most promising drug – BCT303 – during Life Science Tennessee’s “Business Competition and Showcase” later this week in Nashville. The drug is focused on the treatment of  hypothyroidism.

IPE partnered with Georgetown University on the initial clinical trial required to get BCT303 approved. Latham said the Phase 1 trial began April 27 and ended August 3, two months ahead of schedule “with very positive results.”

“It is the first controlled-release, single daily dose T3 drug to treat hypothyroidism,” Latham says. “BCT303 fixes two problems. Compared to the current branded drug in the market, it is designed to increase safety by delivering more predictive therapeutic levels in patients and improve stability, so it can last longer on the shelf.”

With the Phase 1 trial completed, IPE is working to launch its Phase 2 trial, again with Georgetown. “We are pushing really hard to get this drug commercialized,” Latham says.

The IPE CEO is particularly proud of the company’s values. “Our first goal is to help people,” he says. “Our second goal is to do good business.”

Latham says that “the best thing that we have accomplished is building our management team,” most of whom are stakeholders in IPE. The team includes Eric Fields, Chief Financial Officer; Keith Latham, Chief Scientist; Josh Harrison, Chief Pharmacist; and Mark Loftis, General Counsel.

He is equally proud of the relationship that exists between IPE and East Tennessee State University (ETSU). The company is located in ETSU’s Valleybrook Center, formerly owned by Eastman. In addition, Latham cites strong support from two ETSU executives – Pharmacy Dean Larry Calhoun and Pharmaceutical Sciences Chair David Roane.

In addition to running a company and getting a new drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Latham will soon release his third book and is also a relatively new father.

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