The delivery of millions of doses of Acambis' smallpox vaccine to the US government has been delayed because of a disagreement over the best glue to use for the vial labels.
Acambis said it had finished manufacturing the 155 million doses of the ACAM2000 required to fill the $428 million (€392m) order and has delivered more than half the stock. However, the balance has been held up because of the adhesive debate, which centres on the effect of variations in temperature on the integrity of the glue.
This scenario drives home the complexities associated with labelling and packaging of pharmaceuticals, and also the consequences when things do not go according to plan. Acambis has said that it the delay will mean that revenues from the affected vaccine stocks, originally expected in the second quarter of this year, will now be received in the third and fourth quarters. However, the firm was quick to stress that its full-year revenue and profit forecasts are unaffected by the situation.
Acambis won the US order in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, when letters laced with anthrax were sent through the US mail and fears of biological terrorism came to the fore.
Meanwhile, in a move to expand its North American vaccine sales and distribution network, Acambis agreed to acquire Berna Products for $12.2 million. Acambis will pay $8.4 million in cash when the acquisition closes and up to $3.75 million in milestone payments linked to future sales of Vivotif, an oral typhoid vaccine, and yellow fever vaccine Arilvax.
Berna Products, which employs 13 people in North America, is not affiliated with Switzerland's Berna Biotech.