GSK purchases Wyeth's vaccine facility

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Flu vaccine, Influenza, Vaccine, Human papillomavirus

Britiain's largest drugsmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, announced it is to
expand its ability to increase vaccines supplies by acquiring a
vaccine research and production facility from rivals Wyeth.

This acquisition adds to the company's growing vaccines presence following GSK's May's purchase of Corixa Corporation, a developer of vaccine adjuvants that increase immune response.

"We are working hand-in-hand with government officials to help meet public health needs by expanding our capabilities as a reliable supplier of vaccines for the US,"​ said JP Garnier, chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline.

The 90-acre manufacturing site, located in Marietta, Pennsylvania, which Wyeth closed in December, will be used to help develop future vaccines for GlaxoSmithKline. Terms of the acquisition were kept confidential

The site will focus on the development and production of tissue culture technology that will be used for seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines.

GSK expects to use the site's freeze-drying capabilities to enhance the shelf life and stability of a number of the company's vaccines.

In May, the company filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its flu vaccine Fluarix in the US in time for the upcoming flu season.

Glaxo's flu vaccine is produced in Dresden, Germany. On Wednesday, the company won FDA approval to sell flu shots in the United States for the first time. It expects to provide about 8 million doses for the US.

The purchase could be seen as an attempt to fill the gap in future supplies of flu jabs, which saw vaccine suppliers struggling to keep up with demand.

Last year, problems at the Liverpool plant of the US biotech firm Chiron led to a global shortage of vaccine.

GSK's $300 million purchase of Corixa, which makes a component of the cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, and this latest deal, serves as an indication of the groups shift in focus to vaccine production and manufacturing.

In the next five years, GSK hopes to launch five major new vaccines in some countries: Cervarix, an HPV vaccine targeting cervical cancer; Rotarix, a vaccine against rotavirus already approved in 13 countries including Mexico; a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease; an improved flu vaccine for the elderly; and a meningitis combination vaccine for infants in the US.

Related topics: Clinical Development

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