CSL Behring invests $15m in Kankakee expansion

By Katrina Megget

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Influenza

CSL Behring is investing in a new $15m expansion of its
Kankakee plant in Illinois.

The investment will see an addition of a high-speed, single-dose syringe filling line. Speed and dose numbers were not disclosed for competitive reasons. The expansion follows last February's announcement that sister company CSL Biotherapies, which manufacturers seasonal influenza vaccine in Australia, intended to enter the US market. "Fundamentally [we are expanding] because we made a commitment to bring flu vaccine into the US and it is part of our commitment to invest in the facility in Kankakee,"​ CSL spokesman told US-PharmaTechnologist.com. CSL Kankakee facility general manager and senior vice president Randy Furby said in a statement the expansion was part of the company's business strategy. The plant, which is situated about an hour from Chicago, is expected to be operational in 2010, when CSL Behring intends to contract with CSL Biotherapies to provide filling and packaging services for the US seasonal influenza vaccine. In the meantime, CSL Biotherapies anticipates introducing its influenza vaccine to the US for the upcoming 2007/2008 season following the recent filing of a Biologics License Application (BLA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccine provided for the coming season would be manufactured at its Melbourne plant in Australia. The Kankakee plant currently manufacturers Zemaira (alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor) for the treatment of inherited emphysema. Zemaira would continue to be manufactured at the plant following the expansion. The spokesman said there was the possibility the companies would advance into the area of pandemic influenza vaccines, with CSL Biotherapies already undergoing trials for an H5N1 avian virus. The Melbourne plant is currently undergoing a $60m upgrade to double its influenza manufacturing capacity. Construction at the Kankakee plant would begin in the third quarter of this year. About 200,000 people are hospitalized in the US every year with influenza. An additional 36,000 people die annually from the disease. If a pandemic occurred without a vaccine, the WHO estimates that at least 50 million people could die. In the 1918-1919 Spanish flu outbreak, 50 million people died. Currently, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and MedImmune manufacture seasonal influenza vaccines for the US. In April, Sanofi-Aventis won US approval for a vaccine against the H5N1​ avian virus strain. GSK and Novartis are working on their own vaccines for the strain.

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